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THE BUSINESS Leader Evolution Human Resource Management and

EXPERT PRESS From Technical Expertise to Strategic Organizational Behavior Collection
DIGITAL LIBRARIES Leadership Jean Phillips and Stan Gully, Editors
EBOOKS FOR Alan Patterson
BUSINESS STUDENTS Most individuals who move into leadership positions expe-
Curriculum-oriented, born- rience the modern day version of trial by ordeal. It’s sink or
digital books for advanced

swim. To reduce the learning curve and create a more effec-
business students, written tive process, this book describes a road map for leadership
by academic thought
development, a series of four stages that expand personal
leaders who translate real-
competence as well as create a broader impact on the orga-

world business experience
nization or business. Each stage requires unique changes in
into course readings and
thinking, perspective taking, and behavior, both those needed
reference materials for
to acquire as well as those needed to jettison. The book is a
students expecting to tackle
pragmatic approach for self-motived individuals to take con-
management and leadership
challenges during their
professional careers.
trol of their professional development by giving them the
concepts, tools, techniques, and assignments to develop their
From Technical
Expertise to Strategic
leadership effectiveness where it counts the most—on the job.
POLICIES BUILT While highly relevant to new and existing managers, the
BY LIBRARIANS book is i­ deally suited for technical professionals and leaders
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ership skills distinct from technical expertise. The concepts Leadership

and principles are directed toward the individual for on-
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zational and leadership development resource for Executive
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University of Wisconsin–Madison, an MA from University
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Alan Patterson
student and faculty member. University. Dr. Patterson’s expertise has been tapped by many
global and national organizations, including Anheuser-
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Reserve Bank, Johnson & Johnson, Hewlett-Packard, Major
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Jean Phillips and Stan Gully, Editors
ISBN: 978-1-60649-910-8
​Leader Evolution ​
​Leader Evolution ​
From Technical Expertise to
Strategic Leadership

Alan Patterson
Leader Evolution: From Technical Expertise to Strategic Leadership
Copyright © Business Expert Press, LLC, 2015.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any
means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other
except for brief quotations, not to exceed 400 words, without the prior
permission of the publisher.

First published in 2015 by

Business Expert Press, LLC
222 East 46th Street, New York, NY 10017

ISBN-13: 978-1-60649-910-8 (paperback)

ISBN-13: 978-1-60649-911-5 (e-book)

Business Expert Press Human Resource Management and Organizational

Behavior Collection

Collection ISSN: 1946-5637 (print)

Collection ISSN: 1946-5645 (electronic)

Cover and interior design by Exeter Premedia Services Private Ltd.,

Chennai, India

First edition: 2015

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Printed in the United States of America.

In memory of Ronna Alintuck, who told me that the only
difference between people who write books and people who don’t
write books is that they do it.
Most individuals who move into leadership positions experience the mod-
ern day version of trial by ordeal. It’s sink or swim. To reduce the learning
curve and create a more effective process, Leader Evolution describes a
road map for leadership development, a series of four stages that expand
personal competence as well as create a broader impact on the organiza-
tion or business. Each stage requires unique changes in thinking, perspec-
tive taking, and behavior, both those needed to acquire as well as those
needed to jettison. The book is a pragmatic approach for self-motived
individuals to take control of their professional development by giving
them the concepts, tools, techniques, and assignments to develop their
leadership effectiveness where it counts the most—on the job.
In addition to new and existing managers, the book is ideally suited
for technical professionals and leaders in technical organizations looking
to develop critical leadership behaviors distinct from technical expertise.
These include individuals who are moving on a technical rather than
managerial track. The broad application of concepts and techniques also
makes this book appealing to organizations developing their leaders as
part of broad change initiatives. While the concepts and principles are
directed toward the individual for on-the-job application, the book serves
as an organizational and leadership development resource for Executive
MBA programs as well as a blueprint for in-house leadership develop-
ment programs.

adaptability, alignment, analytical thinking, authentic leadership, change
management, coaching, competency-based, credibility, ­culture, ­emotional
intelligence, high performance organization, leadership, ­leadership devel-
opment, leadership style, leadership training, management, mentor, meta-
cognition, motivation, partnership, professional d ­ evelopment, strategic,
strategy, strategic thinking, succession planning, talent development,
talent management, teamwork, technical leadership, ­training­
Acknowledgments��������������������������������������������������������������������������������� xix

Chapter 1 A Context for Leadership Development�����������������������������1

Chapter 2 Stage One: Expertise��������������������������������������������������������27
Chapter 3 Stage Two: Credibility������������������������������������������������������49
Chapter 4 Stage Three: Alignment and Execution�����������������������������77
Chapter 5 Stage Four: Strategy�������������������������������������������������������117
Chapter 6 Defying Gravity�������������������������������������������������������������143
Chapter 7 Coda������������������������������������������������������������������������������153


The Challenges of Leadership Development

Somewhere in a courtroom in Europe in the mid-eleventh century
a judge orders the bandages removed from the hand of an accused
criminal. Three days earlier, the suspect was forced to pull an iron
ring out of a cauldron of boiling water. If the hand is unharmed, he is
innocent; if not, he is guilty, not to mention most likely suffering from
third-degree burns. At another time in another courtroom the suspect
in question is bound and thrown into a pool of water. If he sinks, he’s
innocent; if he floats, he’s rewarded with a free, darkened cell with
form-fitting chains and shackles for the rest of his life. Such prac-
tices were common in the Dark Ages: trial by ordeal; justice, medieval
style.1 Some 10 centuries later, however, there are people inside today’s
organizations who might describe their passage from individual con-
tributor and expert roles into leadership positions as a modern-day
trial by ordeal, often characterized as baptism by fire or drinking from
a fire hose.
This is not to say that all individuals moving into or currently
working in leadership positions were left to sink or swim on their
own. There are many organizations that have top-flight programs
and proven track records of increasing their leadership capacity and
subsequently their profitability.2 They appreciate the win–win out-
comes for the individual and the organization achieved by developing
leadership at all levels of the organization. In 2013, the Hay Group
identified the top 20 companies in this area. At the top of the list
were Procter & Gamble, Microsoft, General Electric, Coca-Cola, and
Unilever.3 They also reported that 73 percent of the top 20 offered
broad-based talent development opportunities to every employee.
These companies and others like them see leadership development as

an investment, not an expense. What one is likely to see throughout

these organizations are:

• Employees who are willing and open to continuous learning,

and who take an active role in their professional development
• A developmental road map that clearly identifies the skills,
competencies, and behaviors needed to succeed as a leader
• A cadre of managers that takes leadership seriously,
particularly when it comes to the coaching and teaching role
• A talent development culture, meaning that there is both
an underlying belief that people make the difference and an
appropriate infrastructure for developing talent that supports
this belief throughout the organization

Over the broader landscape, however, there are marked differences in how
leaders are developed and a somewhat less-than-certain view of a planned,
methodical road map for success. Some individuals are fortunate to have
at least key pieces of the leadership development process. For example,
maybe you have a good manager as a teacher and coach and a clearly
defined succession plan with developmental assignments and opportu-
nities that await you. Perhaps, you have taken several courses that your
organization offers, like a class on communication and feedback skills or
a three-day training workshop on the secrets to successful middle man-
agement. Maybe, you’ve had an opportunity to take a college course, or
enroll in an MBA program with financial assistance from your organiza-
tion. Perhaps, you’ve had a 360 feedback assessment, or a chance to lead a
highly visible cross-functional project. Or, maybe, you are one of the less
fortunate who were bound and tossed into the deep end of the organiza-
tional pool, to sink or swim on your own, left to figure things out, both
the basics and subtleties of leadership for yourself.

Who Is Responsible for Your Development as a Leader?

In today’s constantly changing, resource-constrained world, leadership

development can be a hit or miss process. We acknowledge those top-
flight, investment-based professional development organizations. Yet,

there are others who see leadership development as an expense. When

dollars are scarce, professional development is often a target, and as the
definition states, “the aim of an attack.”
As a new or prospective leader, a current leader, or a technical pro-
fessional looking to broaden your career, take notice. This wide range of
approaches raises a very important question. Who is responsible for your
development as a leader? That would be you. The question of who owns
your professional development and developing your leadership chops is
best answered by the person you see in the mirror.
The purpose of this book is to give you as a self-motivated professional
a developmental road map for how to move from a base of expertise to a
position of strategic leadership. The concept of position is not just a ref-
erence to a specific job in the organizational hierarchy. It also refers to a
role of expanded influence that you develop through an evolutionary pro-
cess. This book is not about positions or titles. It is about how stepping
up and expanding your personal capability can have a broader, positive
impact on organizational capability and subsequent long-term success,
creating classic win–win outcomes. It is a guide and a map of not only
the skills and behaviors needed for effective leadership, but also the crit-
ical shifts needed in thinking and perspective-taking. It is intended to
make you think about how you think. Ultimately, it means that there
must be changes in where and how you spend your time that define
success—both to you and your organization—as you progress in your career.
To this end, I have created this book with three audiences in mind.
Each shares a similar process for strategic leadership development but
varies based on unique combinations of both technical skills and critical
behaviors required in a particular stage or role:

1. New leaders with one to two years of experience, looking to learn the ropes
The key for a new leader is to get grounded in leadership principles
and key skill development areas such as building trust, credibility,
communication, influence, motivation, and managing relationships.
Since many new leaders come from the ranks of individual contribu-
tors, it is also important to understand where and how you spend
your time, meaning how to let go of certain hands-on activities and
how to increase your capability of executing through others.

2. Current leaders with increased responsibilities for running the organi-

zation or business
At a certain point in the development of expanded leadership capa-
bility, your value is derived by the extent to which you build and
expand organizational capacity. Often the business describes its needs
as “operating at a higher level.” What this means is more focus on
the conditions for successful execution, issues such as organizational
alignment, talent development, and effective change leadership, far
beyond the basics of managing performance. At another key stage
in the evolution of your leadership capability, there are broader
requirements—to see the bigger picture, to think strategically, and to
study how the business creates value and derives profit, all of which
comprise “business savvy.”
3. Technical experts moving into strategic roles in organizations where tech-
nical knowledge and expertise are core to the business.
As a point of clarification, throughout this book the terms expert
and expertise are used broadly to refer to the content-related or
knowledge-based component of any job or role. Certain jobs such
as engineering, information technology, the sciences, and research
and development are highly technical in nature. For these profes-
sions and organizations, the terms expert and expertise have specific
meaning. Other jobs, however, have knowledge-based components
where these terms are used more generally.
In technical organizations, meaning those businesses or func-
tional organizations where technical expertise is the core, there
are often individuals who are more interested in a career based on
increased technical experience and application as opposed to enter-
ing the management ranks. Depending on the size and type of
organization, this choice is facilitated either through a dual career
track with technical and managerial options, or a less-formal, per-
sonal arrangement for career development. In either scenario, the
appeal to you as a member of this audience is that your strategic
value over time is a unique combination of technical expertise, cred-
ibility, and business acumen, a type of “technical savvy” that is dis-
cussed in Chapter 6.

The Mentoré Leadership Model

The developmental road map used in this work is based on a set of

competencies known as the Mentoré Leadership Model, a framework I
­created for use with my clients. It consists of the appropriate skill sets
needed in moving from a base of expertise to strategic leadership posi-
tions. The map consists of four broad regions or stages of development.
Each stage represents a unique mindset and perspective as well as skills,
competencies, and behaviors. Holistically, these stages represent how
leaders evolve from a base of personal competence to higher-level require-
ments needed for increased organizational capacity and ongoing business
success. The development of leadership capability as an evolutionary and
­competency-based process is similar across businesses and organizations.
However, what’s different is how organizations carve out leadership roles
and responsibilities. This means that the importance, intensity, and tim-
ing of leadership-related behaviors and thought processes will vary by
position, function, organization, or business. Specifically, what leader-
ship “looks like” in any given position is important to determine, and we
address this straightaway in the first chapter.
The Mentoré model and road map are also the organizing principles
for the book:

• Chapter 1 describes the context for leadership. It begins

with a brief history of leadership theory, the rise of
competency research, and the implications for a behavioral
approach to professional development. There is also an
overview of the Mentoré model, which is used as an
integrative mechanism throughout the book to describe the
process of evolution across stages and corresponding sets of
• Chapter 2 is a discussion of the first stage of leadership
development, building a base of expertise. Expertise as
mastery, a combination of skills and applied knowledge, is
built upon a unique set of attributes that evolve throughout
the leadership development process.

• Chapter 3 is a description of the second leadership stage,

credibility. Credibility is the foundation for building and
managing relationships. Broadly speaking, this stage describes
the thought processes and behaviors popularized by Daniel
Goldman as emotional intelligence.4

Chapters 2 and 3 are particularly relevant to the first time leader because
they describe the importance of building a track record of success and
adding value to others in the organization as foundational elements for
effective leadership. It is also important for those individuals in highly
technical roles to consider because of the important role credibility plays
in achieving recognition and status as a subject matter expert.

• Chapter 4 describes alignment and execution, the stage

in a leader’s development where the ability to impact the
organization by achieving results through others trumps
personal expertise. Many of the traditional leadership
skills related to elevating team performance are critical at
this stage. Also discussed are thinking in terms of systems,
creating and maintaining organizational alignment, leading
change, developing talent, and serving as a role model to
• Chapter 5 describes what it means to be strategic and how life
at this stage of development is critical for the sustainability
of the enterprise. The ability to see the big picture and
translate the future into present terms is an essential element
in strategic leadership. Being strategic also necessitates
understanding the business, much broader than simply
the experience gained from your own particular functional

Chapters 4 and 5 are particularly critical for existing managers and those
professionals moving further along the technical track, beyond the stage
of personal credibility and a track record of personal success. As either
a people manager or higher-level technical professional, you have more
responsibility for leading the organization and impacting at least your

part of the business. These chapters address what are the differences in
mindset, perspective, and focus as well as behavior. Collectively, these
significantly change where and how you spend your time.

• Chapter 6 is the unique journey for technical professionals

moving into strategic technical leadership positions,
specifically the need to defy the gravitational pull of
hands-on, knowledge-based expertise at every point along
the way.
• The final chapter summarizes the important concepts and
poses the challenge for how you plan to move forward into
strategic leadership roles.

This book is not about identifying your

Who is responsible for your
next job or guaranteeing how to become
development as a leader? That
a successful executive. It’s about how
would be you.
you move from a base of knowledge and
hands-on experience to strategic leader-
ship positions, meaning how you have a positive impact on the business,
and a meaningful career for yourself. Your path may go the way of a
traditional manager of people, or it may be as a high-level technical pro-
fessional. However, as both focus on the business, both are strategic and
By reading and thinking through the concepts in Leader Evolution,
the goal is to help you gain deeper insight into:

1. The use of a developmental road map to chart your future leadership

2. What leadership looks like from a behavioral perspective
3. Why and when you need to change focus, thought process, and per-
spective as you move through different stages
4. Why thinking about thinking becomes increasingly more important
as a component of strategic leadership and how it changes where and
how you spend your time throughout the evolutionary process

If there are no questions, let’s get started.

For me, writing this book was like learning to fly an airplane. I have done
my fair share of flying as a passenger throughout my professional career.
I have seen thousands of planes, observed hundreds of pilots, and offered
a multitude of opinions on what differentiates a superior versus average
landing and takeoff. But I have never sat in the pilot’s seat and flown the
plane, until now.
I did not fly solo. Several people were by my side throughout the trip.
While some pushed and several challenged me, all supported me at every
step. My brother, Dr. Larry Patterson, was both my inspiration and my
Jiminy Cricket, asking, telling, and often strongly recommending for me
to stay the course. As a former flight school instructor, he knows what it
takes to become a pilot. Dr. Robert Hewes of Camden Consulting, in
Boston, taught me the discipline of setting goals and writing daily, but
more importantly, he has shown me what it means to be a colleague and
friend. Bob and I have spent countless hours batting around concepts
and ideas about effective leadership development. Bob is an anchor, and
if there is one thing a divergent thinker needs, it is an anchor.
Another colleague, Dr. Matt Doll of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, is a
brilliant psychologist and community activist, not to mention a creative
and strategic thinker. Matt indulged me in more tangential thinking than
any one person deserves, and with his help we destroyed many, if not all
of the boxes from which we are told to think out of. Marian S­ heridan is
much more than a friend and professional colleague. Throughout every
discussion that we have had either over meals, holidays, coffee, or snow
shoeing, she offered nothing less than the gifts of engagement and encour-
agement. Oh yes, Marian challenged me as well.
Meeting Rob Zwettler of Business Express Press has proven to be more
than just a serendipitous encounter as students in a photography class
last summer. Through Rob’s guidance and that of his capable collection
editors, I am able to finally convert thinking about writing into writing
about thinking. With Destiny Hadley’s steady guidance as ­production

manager at Business Expert Press and the editing team at Exeter, the
details for this book were nailed down. They are the yin to my yang, and
without them, I could never have completed this project.
And most of all, to Sheli for your continuous support, thank you
barely fills a thimble of overflowing gratitude and joy. You always open
windows when doors are shut. This is your gift, and I am grateful.

A Context for Leadership

What is leadership? Often lead-
 History of Leadership Theory
ership is equated with people
 Rationale for a Behavioral
skills or described as “soft skills.”
Approach to Leadership
Sometimes, leadership is dis-
tinguished from management,
 Creating a Context for Leadership
where experts like John Kotter
Using Performance Standards
link leadership with change and
 The Mentoré Leadership
management with predictabil-
Competency Model
ity and order.1 For our purpose,
leadership is the ability to influ-
ence the ways people think and
feel to the point that they take decisive and responsible action. Leadership is
selling ideas, motivating teams, gaining commitment, modeling behav-
ior, engaging in dialogue, aligning organizations, and getting results. It’s
a skill set that runs the gamut from easy to train to downright difficult
to develop. Some people acquire these naturally, but most acquire them
through practice and application. Some learn leadership through role
models and mentors if they’re lucky, others through training programs,
and most by osmosis. The point is that we can define leadership as a set of
behaviors, and as behaviors, new and existing leaders can see it, learn it,
and get better at it.

A Brief History of Leadership Theory

Leadership was not always considered as behaviors related to influence.
For more than two centuries, people have studied leadership to understand
its origin, characteristics, and effectiveness.2 Beginning in the mid-19th

century, the prevailing leadership concept was that of the “great man,” a
generalized yet nonscientific acceptance that, as the name implies, only
certain people were capable of leadership. Writer and historian Thomas
Carlyle popularized this concept in his book On Heroes, Hero Worship,
and the Heroic in History.3 In the 1930s and 1940s, the American psychol-
ogist Gordon Allport described certain personality characteristics that are
indicative of successful leaders.4 Allport claimed that leaders are born with
certain traits and exhibit them in certain combinations that make them
successful. As the field of psychometrics grew from the 1930s to 1950s,
however, additional scientific researchers had difficulty showing consis-
tent results when using traits to define leadership success.5

Behavior Theory

The failure to show reliable and consistent correlations between traits and
leadership gave rise to new concepts. Researchers began looking at behav-
ior rather than trait to measure leadership effectiveness. Since behaviors
are observable, it makes them much easier to study and understand. One
understands leadership by how someone acts, not simply by the traits they
may or may not possess.6
Most notably in this era were two key university studies conducted
at Ohio State University and the University of Michigan.7 The Ohio
State studies used a series of statements to measure leadership on nine
behavioral dimensions. The two most highly correlated sets of behav-
iors were characterized as “consideration” or people-related issues, and
“initiating structure” or task-related issues. Dr. Rensis Likert at the
University of Michigan undertook a similar approach to the study of
leadership. Likert’s research identified three critical types of leadership

• Task–oriented behavior such as planning, organizing, and

• Relationship–oriented behavior such as supporting,
motivating, and rewarding
• Participative leadership such as facilitating rather than
directing the team8

Contingency Theory: One Size Does Not Fit All

By the mid-20th century, a new interest in understanding leader-

ship behavior emerged. Rather than focus on the either–or character-
istics of task-related and relationship-related behaviors, R.R. Blake and
J.S. Mouton used both sets to determine leadership effectiveness based on
situational requirements. This approach was known as the managerial grid,
and it provided a conceptual framework for leadership styles.9 Styles are
collections of behaviors dependent on the situation and needs of people
involved. Hersey and Blanchard popularized this concept as “situational
Contingency theory continues to impact our modern-day perspective
on leadership effectiveness in two ways:

1. Leadership requires both managing tasks and managing people.

2. There is no one “correct” style of leadership. Instead, the “correct-
ness” depends on the leader’s ability to scope out the situation and
use the behaviors suited to the individuals involved.

Transformational Leadership Theory

In the 1970s and 1980s, a different leadership concept known as trans-

formational leadership came to light from researchers such as Bass11 and
Burns.12 In transformational leadership, the leader’s role is to create and
sell a compelling vision that (a) motivates people to operate at a higher
level and (b) creates a greater sense of purpose. Transformational leaders
are concerned less with task-specific needs and more with building trust,
selling ideas, and gaining commitment. The vision is the transformative
mechanism, the “big picture” that so often is missing in the day-to-day
frenzy of modern organizations. In Chapter 5, we will discuss why this
capability is so important.

The Rationale for a Behavioral Approach to

Leadership Development
Leadership in today’s world is a mix of the conceptual and pragmatic,
scientific and artistic, and predictive and situational. Developing leaders

require a disciplined, practical approach based on the acquisition and

demonstration of critical behaviors, skills sets, and competencies. Com-
petencies are the characteristics that define outstanding performance.
One of the pioneers in the field of competency research is David
McClelland.13 McClelland also spawned a generation of researchers that
include experts such as Richard Boyatzis,14 Lyle Spencer,15 and Daniel
There are two questions to consider in using a behavioral approach to
leadership development:

1. What is the level of effort needed to acquire these behaviors?

2. To what extent are there identifiable stages that uniquely characterize
leadership behavior, thought processes, and perspectives at certain
points in your career?

What Is the Level of Effort Needed to Acquire Leadership


There are certain assumptions that one makes when adopting a behav-
ioral approach to leadership development. First, focusing on behavior
is a way to dissect what people do from deeper, more personality-based
characteristics such as traits or aptitudes. While the dissection is pos-
sible, it does not negate the possibility that some of the behaviors are
linked to something deeper inside one’s personality. This raises the ques-
tion of trainability: How much effort is needed to acquire a specific
Using a pyramid as a concept, consider the characteristics about
how people differ. At the top of the pyramid are knowledge and skills.
Below these are aptitudes, which are more innate and often described
as “natural abilities.” Moving down the pyramid are traits or personal-
ity characteristics, values and beliefs, and motives. The characteristics at
the top are more observable and easier to train. At the bottom are more
innate characteristics that are closely associated with who we are, what we
believe, and what drives us. These are less observable and take more time
to develop.

How People Differ





There are, however, behavioral links between those characteristics at

the top and at the bottom. For example, it may be difficult to change
someone’s basic motivation for achievement at a “gut level,” but it is pos-
sible to teach and learn the behaviors for how to set goals and achieve
results. This suggests that rather than trying to “teach” basic motives, val-
ues, or traits, it is better to identify and develop the behaviors that are
associated with these characteristics.




Another critical link in the chain between innate characteris-

tics and their related behaviors is thoughts and feelings. McClelland,
for example, describes motives as inner drives that shape the way we
think and feel, which ultimately shape behavior.17 Similarly, Goleman
describes the link among thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as critical
elements of emotional intelligence.18

This set of relationships raises another important consideration for

leadership development: What is the best approach for you to acquire and
develop leadership skills? Is it at the:

a) Behavioral level—meaning the acquisition and demonstration of

certain knowledge and skills?
b) Thoughts and feelings level—changing what goes on inside the head
and the heart?
c) Innate personality level—reengineering our basic drives or values?

From a trainability perspective, a behavioral approach to leadership devel-

opment is the most pragmatic. This approach rests on the four essential
elements of adult learning:19

1. Recognition and understanding of the desired behaviors

It is important to identify the specific elements of the characteristic,
competency, or skill in terms of what is observable and doable. For
example, it is not sufficient to say that a leader needs to be a coach,
which is a general description of the role. More specifically, the
behavior is that the leader as coach meets routinely with each team
member, provides ongoing feedback, and delegates specific tasks as
development opportunities.
2. Assessment
Assessing your behavior is how you have “skin in the game.” Without
an assessment, ideally with both self-feedback and feedback from oth-
ers, you are more likely to intellectualize these as concepts rather than
considering them in the context of your professional development.
3. Practice
Practice is deliberate, painstaking, and methodical. It is an oppor-
tunity for an individual to experiment, push beyond one’s comfort
zone, take risks, make mistakes, learn, and try again. Practice with
feedback is essential for changing behavior.
4. Application
If practice takes place in the lab, application takes place in the real
world. It is the demonstration of critical behaviors appropriately
applied to people and situations to get desired outcomes. Applica-

tion of the right behavior at the right time for the desired outcome is
the definition of successful leadership performance.

We are still left to consider how easily you can acquire these leadership
behaviors. In order to be effective, the training and development process
needs to take into consideration the level of effort needed to demon-
strate the appropriate knowledge, skills, and behaviors effectively, and the
extent to which these elements interrelate and reinforce each other. The
more they interrelate, the easier it is to develop them in concert. There is
also another consideration that has longer-term implications for the type
of professional development needed to succeed in strategic leadership.
What is the possibility that, through intensive, deliberate practice and
development, the focus is not only on how you change behavior but also
on how you think and feel, making it easier to sustain the behavior over
time. Deliberate practice is something we will explore in Chapter 4 when
examining the role of a leader as a coach and a teacher.
The point is that as a new or existing leader, the focus on leadership
behavior is important because it gives you something that is specific, con-
crete, and doable, something you can practice and apply. But there’s more
that needs to happen. The longer-term benefit of professional development
is the potential to change how you think. The more these behaviors connect
together, the greater the opportunity to create a change in mindset and per-
spective. We begin with identifying the desired behaviors. We rely on the
link between thinking and behavior to work in both directions: Changes
in thinking can impact behavior; changes in behavior can impact thinking.

To What Extent Are There Identifiable Stages That Uniquely

Characterize Leadership at Certain Points in One’s Career?

The concept of development stages is one widely used in the field of

psychology. A stage is characterized by distinct qualitative differences in
thinking. Piaget in the field of cognitive development and Kohlberg in
the field of moral development use stages to explain different reasoning
patterns as children mature.20 The process of moving from one stage to
the next is a transformation for how an individual thinks, sees the world,
and makes judgments.

For Kohlberg, stages had to meet certain criteria:

1. They represent qualitative differences in the way people think.

2. They are “structured wholes,” meaning that they represent patterns
of thinking that show up across a variety of issues.
3. They are hierarchically integrated, “that people do not lose the insights
gained at lower stages, but integrate them into new, broader frameworks.”21
4. They exist in “invariant sequence.” This means that people progress
through the stages from the first to the second to the third and so on.22

Additionally, there are two pioneers in the field of motivational research

who utilize a hierarchical concept similar to stage development. In 1959,
Frederick Herzberg, a renowned clinical psychologist, described two
levels of motivators at work. At one level are hygiene or maintenance
factors such as salary, work conditions, and security. At a higher level
are job motivators, such as recognition, responsibility, advancement, and
meaningful work. According to Herzberg, hygiene factors alone do not
create job satisfaction, but their absence can create dissatisfaction. When
hygiene factors are met at a lower level, the factors at the higher level are
motivators for job satisfaction.23
Abraham Maslow’s theory of motivation argues that an individual has
certain hierarchical stages of needs, ranging from physiological and safety
needs at a base level, to self-esteem and self-actualization at a higher level.
Similar to Herzberg, Maslow’s lower-level needs, also described as deficiency
needs, are prominent in their absence. When these lower-level needs are
satisfied, they create a base for growth in self-esteem and self-actualization.24
From the fields of psychology and motivational research, one can
extract four unique benefits by using a stage concept for leadership

• First, stages define specific regions on a leadership

development road map. Similar to the logic used by Piaget
and Kohlberg, stages are hierarchically integrated, meaning
that as you move into a new stage along the map, you retain
the insights and experience from lower stages and integrate
them into broader frameworks.

• Second, stages are heuristic models or “structured wholes”

that represent patterns of thinking, unique role perspectives,
skill requirements, and critical behaviors that apply across
a variety of situations. As a leader at a particular stage of
development, you think and act across a variety of situations
through an integrated skill set.
• Third, stages give focus and direction to the development
process. Specifically, stages are a more prescriptive approach
for when and how you need to use certain leadership tools,
techniques, and practices than simply drawing from a laundry
list of attributes.
• Fourth, stages tell a story, where shifts and leaps, defying
gravity and defining the third win, and evolution and
revolution are all critical for successful outcomes.

Creating a Context for Leadership: Using

Performance Standards
Earlier I mentioned that what is unique about leadership is how roles
and responsibilities are defined, which impacts what leadership looks like
in terms of expectations, situations, and competency application. These
requirements can differ by position, function, organizational culture, type
of business, or all the above. Therefore, to understand what leadership looks
like for you requires understanding the context of your position, meaning
what are the critical responsibilities and subsequent behaviors that define
success. One method for understanding context is the use of performance
standards. Performance standards are akin to a job analysis that human
resource professionals use to scope out basic duties and responsibilities for
a particular job or job family. For our purposes, performance standards
need to answer three basic questions for a specific position:

• What does the job entail?

• How does a person perform the job?
• Who are the critical interfaces, meaning the people or groups
with whom this position must interact with to perform

Defining the “What” and the “How”: The Bartender

Performance standards
the job

Measures of Technical Critical

Critical tasks
success skills behaviors

The what The how

To illustrate the performance standards process, imagine that you are an

owner of a new pub in town and want to hire the best bartender. What
does it mean to be the best, and what specifically are you looking for in
terms of experience, knowledge, and skills?
The first step is to define what specifically the job is. The what consists

a) measures of success, which are quantifiable outcome metrics. These

measures could be the number of drinks served, revenue, profit-
ability, customer satisfaction, and repeat business in some combi-
nation of factors;
b) critical tasks. Tasks are specific duties and responsibilities. For a
bartender, the tasks are mixing drinks, greeting, and serving cus-
tomers, stocking the bar, cleaning the bar, ordering inventory, and
making change.

When you combine (a) the measures of success with (b) the critical tasks,
the net result is a job description, a definition of what the job entails. The
measures and tasks for your bartender depend on how you define the role
and what you expect to see as outcomes.
The second step is to define the skill set, the how. This step requires
the identification of:

c) technical skills. These refer to the job-specific, content-related

aspect of the job. Generally speaking, they are often a mix of
basic knowledge and skill requirements. For your bartender, the
“technical” skills could include knowledge of drink recipes, basic

knowledge of beer and wine, math skills, and use of the point of
sale system;
d) critical behaviors. These behaviors, also described as competencies,
are characteristics that define outstanding performance in the job.
As the owner, you have an image of what special qualities you want
for your bartender. Perhaps, it’s mixing a great drink, having a
great memory, and making a good appearance. You might want
someone who is personable, tactful, and professional. While these
characteristics are broad in scope, at some point, you will need to
define them in observable and behavioral terms. For example, a
great memory means that a bartender “addresses regular customers
by their names as they enter the bar,” or “remembers and delivers
their favorite beverages.”

When you combine (c) the technical skills and (d) the critical behaviors,
the net result is the skill set, which also serves as a template for training
and development.

Performance standards
The bartender

Measures of Technical Critical

Critical tasks
success skills behaviors
• Number of • Mixing • Mixology • Makes great
drinks drinks • Knowledge drinks
served • Serving of beer and • Great
• Revenue customers wine memory
• Profitability • Stocking the • Math skills • Good
• Customer bar • Use of point appearance
satisfaction • Cleaning of sale (POS) • Personable
• Repeat the bar system • Tactful
business • Ordering • Professional
• Making

The what The how

Defining “the Who”: The Job Wheel

While the “bartender” analysis creates overall expectations for roles,

responsibilities, and skill sets, it does not give a sense of priority, propor-
tion, or timing. One method to determine these factors is the use of a job

wheel. This is a process for deciding which interface—meaning which

individuals and groups—are most critical for successful performance.
The value of prioritizing interfaces is that it prescribes what relationships
are most important to build and maintain, and it pinpoints what specific
duties and tasks are required in those relationships. For the new leader
and for the technical professional looking to achieve subject matter
expert status, developing a game plan for key relationships is an essential
component for building credibility individually and for the team.
The process begins by identifying the individuals or groups with
whom this position must interface in order to execute the responsibilities
successfully. For our bartender, those interfaces include customers, the
wait staff, the owner, other bartenders, and vendors. Then it is a matter
of deciding how critical each interface is to the bartender’s overall perfor-
mance. This is accomplished by rating each interface as A, B, or C. As are
most critical; Bs, critical; and Cs, less critical. By going to each A interface
and identifying the critical tasks needed, the result is a list of prioritized
tasks and critical interfaces needed for successful performance.
If you are currently in a leadership position, you may need to go
through the prioritization process twice—first, the priorities as they are
currently; second, the priorities as they should be to maximize job effective-
ness. You will notice in the following example that customers are rated as
an A priority. You will also see that the business owner, currently listed

The job wheel process

Identifying the “who”

Instructions Critical tasks with customers

1. Identify critical interface • Presents self in a professional and
2. Prioritize each interface (A,B, or C) approchable manner
3. List the key tasks associated with A • Engages in friendly conversion
each “A” Interface • Serves a “good” drink
B • Demonstrates tact, diplomacy and respect
Wait staff Restaurant
B manager
Suppliers/ Bartenders B A
sales reps Business
Regulatory/legal Critical tasks with business owner
Other • Discuss marketing opportunities
authorities bartenders • Recommends promotional activities
• Routinely analyzes inventory turns and suggests
changes as needed

as a B priority, is elevated to an A priority in thinking about the future.

The reason is the desire for this bartender position to play a future role in
increasing traffic into the bar, which means spending more time with the
owner to consider more promotional activities and better management of
the inventory.

Using the Job Wheel to Clarify Your

Roles and Responsibilities
The use of the job wheel is an excellent process to clarify roles and
responsibilities for the current job, future job, or both. This is partic-
ularly crucial for new leaders, yet existing leaders, particularly in the
midst of shifts in business direction or priorities, can also benefit from
this process.
First, create a blank job wheel on a sheet of paper. Brainstorm a list
of critical interfaces for your position as you define it. Rate each inter-
face in terms of current priority based on importance and time spent
with each interface. Do this activity objectively and without value
judgment. Lots of A priorities? This is not a problem at this point.
Second, determine what the priorities should be based on their
importance to the successful execution of your roles and your respon-
sibilities moving forward. (This step is most likely relevant to existing
rather than new leaders.) Some interfaces could drop in priority, some
escalate in importance, some will stay the same, and some might dis-
appear altogether. While you may end up with several A priorities,
they cannot all be As; some interfaces are more important than others
to your job success. For each of the should be As, list out three to five
critical tasks you need to perform with that individual or group.
Third is the clarification step. Sit down with your manager to dis-
cuss your job wheel and prioritized interfaces, both current and future,
along with your rationale. Having the wheel with your prioritizations
as a visual representation sparks the right discussion needed to bring
clarity and agreement about your job.
Once the priorities and tasks are determined, you can then move
to the bartender diagram, using the critical tasks as an anchor to com-
pleting measures, technical skills, and critical behaviors.

This process of rating each interface is a simple yet impactful method

for setting priorities. The key is to get the right people involved in deter-
mining not just what these roles are, but what they should be. While some
people may not agree, every interface can’t be an A priority. When every
interface is an “A,” the jobs tend to be fragmented and unfocused. Some
interfaces are more important than others. Forcing definition of the right
“A” interfaces brings clarity to the job and sets priorities and expectations
for performance, particularly in terms of what the job needs to look like
moving forward.
To recap this section, the performance standards process, by intent,
is an organic method for defining roles and responsibilities. It facilitates
an ongoing dialogue for setting and managing expectations. Using the
process as a combination of the bartender and job wheel activities creates
a relationship among the what, the how, and the who of the job.

The Mentoré Leadership Competency Model

A Leadership Development Road map: Background and Rationale

With a method for bringing clarity to leadership roles and responsibilities

in hand, the next requirement is a developmental road map to define
what skills, competencies, and behaviors are needed as you become more
seasoned and as your leadership and impact broaden across the busi-
ness. Using an appropriately constructed competency model is a proven
method for creating such a road map, identifying behavioral standards,
and setting expectations.
At the time I began my consulting career, the field of competency
research was beginning to take off.25 The term “competency” had a
specialized meaning—“an underlying characteristic of a person which
enables them to deliver superior performance in a given job, role, or situa-
tion.”26 The basis for the research, spearheaded by Dr. David McClelland,
Harvard professor, and several of his protégés, was to identify the charac-
teristics of the best performers, to understand what they thought and did
more often, in greater combination, and for more effective results than
average performers.
It was not long before there was an explosion of interest in the field.
The term competency was used broadly to mean everything from a basic

skill to a unique way of thinking or pattern of behavior. Competency mod-

els, which are constellations of competencies intended to define successful
performance in a particular job or role, were popping up everywhere. It
was not unusual to see a model with 25 or more competency headings and
more than a hundred behavioral indicators. I know this to be true because
I created some of these myself. And with the advent of technology and
Internet capability, what I saw was a commoditization of creating compe-
tencies and competency models rather than as a specialized discipline.
Eventually what this sig-
naled to me was a renewed Some people try to find things in the game
interest and focus with cli- that don’t exist but football to me is only
ents on how competencies and two things—blocking and tackling.
competency models are used as Vince Lombardi
opposed to how they are cre-
ated. My particular goal was to create a simplified model that could
be used primarily for leadership development. My criteria was that the
model has to be relevant, actionable, pragmatic, and uncomplicated. I
wanted it to explain how behaviors, thought processes, and perspectives
can exist as integrated wholes or stages of development. It needed to be
a road map, not a laundry list. And, it had to tell a compelling story, one
that people would remember, use, and tell other people. This was the
rationale for creating the Mentoré model.27

Dimensions of Effective Leadership

Job Expertise

Understanding the skill and behavioral characteristics of effective lead-

ership starts by getting a general lay of the land, looking for major
characteristics and features that define the overall landscape. What we
know is that the practice of leadership to this point has benefited from
a two-dimensional model or road map that consists of managing tasks
and relationships.28 From a skill acquisition and development perspec-
tive, task-related performance is measured by job expertise. As mentioned
earlier, the use of the term “expertise” is used broadly to describe skill
proficiency and applied knowledge in the content-based requirements of
any job. As we will explore more in the next chapter, expertise can refer

to either the attainment of a specific level or standard, or to an ongoing

process for knowledge and skill mastery. Expertise is necessary for leader-
ship success, but as we will see, it is not what differentiates superior from
average performance.29

Relationship Management

The second dimension, relationship-related behavior, is made up of a

unique skill set focused on understanding people. Successful relation-
ships are fueled by building credibility, the extent to which others attribute
value to you. Relationship-related behaviors are often associated with the
leadership concepts of motivation, communication, influence, and col-
laboration. The combination of expertise and relationship management
creates a solid leadership base. Moving into more strategic positions, how-
ever, requires one additional factor.

Business Savvy

Today there is an added element needed to survey the landscape better,

and that is the ability to see the bigger picture and look farther down the
road. Unfortunately, the rate of change challenges organizations to think
longer term, especially when there is a less-than-certain forward direction.
The hopes for a steady-state and prolonged stability are yesterday’s dreams.
Focus and priority are hard to come by. Communication and alignment
are OK at best. The battle cry to the troops has been to work smarter, not
harder. Unfortunately, the troops are too busy to work smarter.
While the focus on job-based expertise and relationship management
provides situational guidance for leadership, the combination comes up
short in today’s business environment, especially since direction, focus,
and priority are daily requirements. Perhaps, Burns and Bass saw this
coming 30 years ago when they described the need for transformational
leadership, the need for vision, and the ability to see the big picture that
is needed to provide guidance and direction.30
In terms of leadership requirements, the big picture refers to under-
standing the business and the context in which your role exists. It means
knowing what business you are in, how it’s organized, how it derives value

and profitability, what the current and future drivers for success are, and,
importantly, how you fit in. How big is “big”? That answer depends on
where you sit in the organization. The picture widens as you move from
a team, to a functional, to an enterprise perspective. Ultimately, the big
picture includes external customers, competitors, and the marketplace,
both currently and in the future.
What fuels the ability to see and understand the big picture is strategic
thinking. When strategic thinking is linked to job-related competence
and relationship management, it creates a three-dimensional model that
defines what leadership competencies and behaviors are most critical to
meet the challenges and complexities in today’s business environment,
and what’s needed to compete in the future. When strategic thinking
is uniquely applied to the business, it creates a new type of intelligence
characterized as “business savvy.”

Leadership dimensions

Relationship management
Business savvy

Credibility Strategic thinking

Job–related competence
Job expertise

Deriving Leadership Competencies

What is the overall context in which leadership is needed in today’s

business environment? There are conditions created by how the oppos-
ing forces of connectivity and fragmentation collide on a daily basis.
Technology and globalization create connectivity, while the rate of
change and volume of information create fragmentation. If leadership
is anything, it is dynamic. By necessity, leadership is both situational,
what’s most effective in a specific situation, and transformational, what’s
important given the overall vision and direction. Leadership is calculus,

not algebra. It requires continuous calibration. The fact that leadership

is dynamic, however, does not mean that it is random. Using a compe-
tency model as a road map is one means for creating a level of predict-
ability and expectations sequenced along a progression of stages, each
with complementary roles, unique perspectives, important tasks, and
critical behaviors.
The ability for a competency model to serve as a developmental road
map is shaped not only by which competencies and behaviors are needed,
but how they relate to each other in terms of thought process, perspective,
and focus. By design, the Mentoré model represents an evolution of lead-
ership, from building personal competence to expanding organizational
capacity, from asking what and who to how and why, and moving from
knowledge-based expertise to strategic leadership. Strategic leadership
does not refer simply to those individuals at the executive level. It refers
to the type of leadership that people need in numerous types of positions
up and down the organization responsible for working on the business, far
beyond just technical know-how and day-to-day execution.
The Mentoré model consists of four stages. Each stage consists of four
competencies. When linked together within each stage, the competencies
represent a distinct perspective, focus, role, and set of behaviors. Following
is an overview of the model with brief descriptors of each competency.

The mentoré leadership competency model

Alignment and execution Strategy
9. Shapes the culture and 13. Strategic thinker
political landscape Alignment 14. Walks in the customer’s shoes
10. Develops talent and Strategy 15. Business partner and adviser
11. Builds an adaptive organization execution 16. Business savvy
12. Leads by example

Credibility Expertise
5.Trust 1. Initiative
6. Character and moral courage 2. Discernment
7. Effective communication Credibility Expertise 3. Curiosity
and influence skills 4. Competence
8. Relationship management

Stage One: Expertise

Stage overview  Expertise is the starting point for development. It is

based on job content and technical proficiency and a track record of

successful performance. Expertise is a potent mix of drive, intellect, and

In the expertise stage you spend your time building a base of knowl-
edge, learning the ropes, getting a lay of the land in terms of processes
and procedures, developing and refining your ability to think analytically,
diving below the surface of a problem or looking beyond the obvious,
driving for and getting results, perhaps leading a project or two, getting
as smart as you can about everything related to the work itself, and con-
tinuously striving for mastery of the critical knowledge and experience in
your job. In a nutshell, you’re looking, digging, learning, and achieving
The expertise competencies are

1. initiative: the energy, drive, and determination to get results;

2. discernment: the ability to think analytically and make informed
judgments­—to reason and comprehend, particularly about what is
not apparent;
3. curiosity: a hunger to learn, explore, and dig deeper, especially to
make sense out of uncertainty;
4. competence: mastery and proficiency—the ability to apply knowl-
edge and skills that consistently achieve outcomes to prescribed stan-
dards in a variety of circumstances and situations.

Stage Two: Credibility

Stage overview  Credibility is built on one’s ability to commit and de-

liver value to others. It is the basis for developing and managing rela-
tionships. It is an important stage for a new leader, and is also critical
for the technical professional looking to achieve technical status as a
subject matter expert and potentially moving farther along on a tech-
nical track.

With a base of expertise under your belt, you make a conscious shift
in priorities. Beyond just getting results, you realize the value of what
it means to commit and deliver to others and build a track record of

In this stage, you spend your time building relationships, learning

what’s important to the people around you, increasing your visibility in
the organization, building a reputation as someone who uses your knowl-
edge and skill to help others solve their problems and reach their goals,
learning and practicing effective communication skills and “the art of
persuasion,”31 developing your own networks, and creating an image as a
person of character, integrity, and courage.
The credibility competencies are

5. relationship management: establishing rapport, making connec-

tions, building relationships, and creating networks critical to both
short- and long-term goals;
6. character and moral courage: the demonstration of integrity and
the highest professional standards even when facing adversity or
making the tough decisions—how you choose to do business;
7. credibility and trust: building a positive reputation based on your
ability to commit and deliver value to others;
8. effective communication and influence skills: the ability to listen,
to communicate at the level of the audience, and to persuade others
effectively by identifying common ground and striving for mutually
beneficial outcome.

Stage Three: Alignment and Execution

Stage overview  Alignment and execution are working through others to

maximize performance and deliver results. Both new and existing leaders
move into this stage at some point once they have a base of credibility and
continue to build upon it.

Up to this point your ability to execute effectively is because of your

direct hands-on ability—brains, brawn, and results. Additionally, maybe
you have had success in leading a small project team of colleagues, man-
aging a college intern for the summer, or having a junior associate report
to you. Moving into the stage of alignment and execution, however, is
different. In this stage, the organization or business, needs and expects
you to translate your personal capability into organizational capacity each
and every day. Your role may be one of directly managing others, or it

could be as a project manager or technical contributor with expanded

responsibilities for cross-functional activities. In all cases, your value is
limited by hands-on involvement yet expanded by your ability to achieve
results through others.
In this stage, you spend your time aligning and realigning processes
and priorities with duties and responsibilities, increasing the effective-
ness of the team, clarifying roles and responsibilities, setting expectations,
developing talent, coaching and teaching, influencing the decision-mak-
ing process, expanding your networks, leading change initiatives, and
modeling the behavior that you expect from others.
The alignment and execution competencies

9. shape the culture and political landscape: shapes a culture based

on mutual respect, trust, and accountability;
10. build an adaptive organization: creates a high-performance orga-
nization that gets results by continually aligning strategy, roles, skill
sets, and leadership responsibilities;
11. develop talent: takes pride in role as coach and teacher who get the
most out of individuals and teams;
12. lead by example: models the leadership behaviors and values
expected of others.

Stage Four: Strategy

Stage overview  As a stage in leadership development, strategy means

­being strategic and engaging in strategic leadership. Being strategic re-
quires looking out beyond organizational or functional boundaries to un-
derstand the bigger picture and business. For managers of people, strategic
leadership is a combination of managing at least a part of the business
organization, thinking strategically, and developing business acumen,
which leadership expert Ram Charan describes as “the keen awareness of
how money is made.”32 For technical professionals, strategic leadership
is a combination of ongoing technical expertise combined with strategic
thinking and business acumen. In both cases, leaders who operate at this
level are valuable not only because of their experience and insight, but also
because they have the foresight to lead the business into the future.

In this stage, you spend your time looking outside your orga-
nization to see the bigger picture, learning what’s important to both
internal and external customers, forging partnerships across the enter-
prise, and understanding the business and how it derives value and
The strategy competencies are as follows:

13. Strategic thinker: the ability to see the big picture by thinking
broadly and extrapolating from current to future trends and out-
14. Walks in the customer’s shoes: creates and develops a customer
­dialogue that can involve all levels of the organization.
15. Business partner and strategist: works as partner and positions
the organization to deliver value through ongoing commitment and
shared risk for the success of the end-customer—strives for win–
win–win outcomes
16. Business savvy: understands how the business makes money—takes
the risks and creates opportunities needed to remain viable as a busi-
ness entity

Skin in the Game

Preassessment Activity

One way to maximize the value of what is to follow in this book is to do a

short assessment of where you see yourself in terms of these stages, which
competencies are most important to you now, and what’s critical as you
move forward in the next 12 months. Take 15 minutes to answer these

1. Which of the four stages—expertise, credibility, alignment and

execution, and strategy—best characterizes where you are currently
spending your time?
Current stage:
What are three to five major responsibilities in which you are cur-
rently engaged?

2. In which stage do you think you should be spending your time in the
next 12 months?
Stage where you should be: _____________________
If this is not where you currently are, what will it take for you to get
there? List three activities you need to do more of, and three activities
you need to do less of.

More of Less of

3. Look through the competencies and their descriptions again.

• Which of these are most important for your current success?
Why? Choose no more than eight.
• Which of these are most important to you in the next 12
months? Why? Choose no more than eight.

Importance in
Current the next 12
importance months
(check no (check no more
Competency more than 8) than 8) Rationale
Expertise stage

Credibility stage
Character and moral courage
Effective communication and
influence skills
Relationship management
Alignment and execution
Shapes the culture and politi-
cal landscape
Develops talent
Builds an adaptive organi-
Leads by example
Strategy stage
Strategic thinker
Walks in the customer’s shoes
Business partner and strat-
Business savvy

4. Consider meeting with your manager to discuss your responses and

ratings and to get her feedback. This is a great opportunity to discuss
your professional development in the context of leadership stages
and competencies.
5. Think of this preassessment as a snapshot, by no means a complete
picture as yet for your leadership development. Use it as a reference
point as you read through the next chapters to ask yourself if you are
spending your time working in the right areas, developing the right
skills, and thinking about the right things.

Chapter Summary
Taking Stock

• At its most basic level, leadership is the ability to influence the

way people think and feel to the point they take decisive and
responsible action.

• Historically, leadership was defined as innate traits and

characteristics. By the mid-20th century, researchers studied
leadership in terms of behavior in specific situations. Today
leadership theory has continued to evolve into the study
of effective leadership behavior. While traits are innate and
difficult to develop, behaviors are observable and more easily
trained and developed.
• Leadership occurs within a context of a particular business,
organization, and job. The use of performance standards
and the job wheel process are tools to define what the job
is, the skill and behavioral expectations for how the job is
performed, and the most critical individuals or group with
whom this job must interface to perform successfully.
• Two research trends help define a road map for leadership
{{ Competency research identifies those characteristics and
behaviors indicative of outstanding performance. Part
of the success of constructing a competency model is its
ability to tell a story.
{{ Stage development, used in the fields of psychological and
motivational research, creates a framework of “structured
wholes, identify qualitative differences in thinking patterns,
and integrate insights gained from lower stages into higher
• The three dimensions that define leadership are technical
competence, relationship management, and being business
• The Mentoré leadership competency model incorporates these
three dimensions into a road map for leadership development.
It consists of four stages: expertise, credibility, alignment
and execution, and strategy. At a conceptual level, the model
is a heuristic device to describe and consider the essential
thought processes and beliefs inside effective leadership. From
a behavioral level, the model identifies a set of integrated
competencies for taking action.

Stage One: Expertise

Building a Base
Life in the Vortex

Imagine that you are a marketing manager who just hired Sarah Rich-
man, a recent college graduate, for a new position, one to improve the
company’s social media presence. What impressed you most about her
is the raw talent you saw—a mix of drive and intellect. So it comes as
no surprise that after a couple of weeks on the job, Sarah wants to sit
down with you to get your advice. She understands her role. That part
she got from the interview process and your first meeting with her when
she arrived. What she wants to understand is what you think she has to
do to be successful. You tell her to “work hard, use her head, learn a lot,
and do a good job.” It sounds good, but she tells you that her parents gave
her that advice three years ago when she worked her first summer job.
She tries the question again, “What do I need to know and do in order to
execute my role effectively?” She wants to understand what it will take for
her to be the best, and she is asking you to coach her, to really explain to
her what she needs to learn, how she needs to be thinking about things,
and what she needs to do. She just validated your ability to spot drive and
intellect. How do you answer Sarah’s question?
Maybe you are thinking that you have never had this happen before
and would give anything to have such an employee. However, I contend
that this discussion, more likely a series of discussions, is one you want
to have whether someone asks for it or not. Yes, it is about working hard,
using your head, learning a lot, and doing a good job, but it needs to be
framed in learning and mastering the fundamentals for building a base
of expertise.


Expertise stage
Expertise is the first stage in leadership development and is focused
on learning the content of the job and applying the knowledge to
achieve results.

Expertise competencies
Initiative: the energy, drive, and determination to get results
Discernment: the ability to think analytically and make informed judg-
ments—to reason and comprehend, particularly about what is not apparent
Curiosity: a hunger to learn, explore, and dig deeper, especially to make
sense out of uncertainty
Competence: mastery and proficiency—the ability to apply knowledge
and skills that consistently achieve outcomes to prescribed standards in a
variety of circumstances and situations

To a great extent, expertise is based on knowledge, and if you believe

Sir Francis Bacon, Scientia potential est—knowledge is power.1 However,
there is more than just the knowledge itself that is important for building
expertise. There is a need to understand what someone sees as important,
how he or she thinks and acquires knowledge, and how that knowledge
is applied. This takes us to understanding the concepts of motivation,
thinking, and learning.

Understanding Motivation
Motivation is a topic that has intrigued everyone from psychologists
to writers to Monday morning quarterbacks. Earlier we examined how

researchers like Maslow2 and Herzberg3 relate motivation to a set of

intrinsic needs, some basic and primal in nature, and others associated
with psychological growth and development. Also prominent in the study
of motivation is Harvard professor and mentor to other experts in the
field, David McClelland. McClelland wrote The Achieving Society in 1961
to examine the role that motivation plays in economic development.
McClelland describes different types of social motives, motives that drive
our behavior in interactions with others.4
McClelland’s discovery is that each of us possesses three sources of
motivational energy. Each source has a particular focus, and drives us to
fulfill a particular intrinsic need:

• Power is focused on people to have a positive impact on others

• Achievement is focused on tasks to perform work efficiently
and effectively
• Affiliation is also focused on people to create close, personal

The Power Motive

Is power good or bad? As basic motivation, power is neither. What makes

us think power is good or bad depends on how it is used. McClelland
clearly understood this distinction.5 Think of the best boss you have ever
seen or had. People describe a good teacher, someone who is approach-
able, who values them for their contributions, is firm but fair, is a good
coach, shares the credit, and is a good listener. McClelland characterized
this type of power as socialized for positive, win–win outcomes. These
individuals demonstrate self-control, have strong values, and empower
Think of the worst boss. Some of the more common responses are
micromanager, manipulative, looking out for #1, intimidating, incon-
sistent, and my personal favorite—the Teflon manager, someone who
takes the credit but let’s the blame just slide off. McClelland describes this
type of power as personalized: ego-driven, self-serving, and manipulative.
Personalized power is power without self-control, and the need to impact
others is calculated and manipulative, to look good at any cost.7

Power is the motive of influence. The thought process created by the

power motive is how to impact others, to make a favorable impression.
These thoughts are linked to behaviors such as

• wanting to be in charge;
• coaching and motivating others;
• teaching and giving advice;
• achieving work through others;
• displaying pictures or objects that suggest prestige or status;
• wanting to win;
• engaging in politics on or off the job;
• networking and “working the room.”

The Achievement Motive

Achievement is the motive of accomplishing work as efficiently and effec-

tively as possible. Since the focus is on the task, the value that achievement
derives is to do the best job possible.
The thought process linked to achievement is one of accomplishing
goals to an internal set of standards of excellence. Characteristic behaviors

• taking initiative;
• doing new and exciting work;
• working independently to get the most done;
• working collaboratively if it involves working with other
smart, motivated people, meaning other high achievers;
• seeking performance-related feedback;
• looking for ways to maximize efficiencies and avoid waste;
• wanting to demonstrate how much you know, how smart you are;
• craving for challenges and accomplishing something new;
• getting results.

The Affiliation Motive

Affiliation, like power, focuses on people. But affiliation has no agenda

and no need to impact others. Affiliation fulfills the need to create close,
social relationships.

Affiliation is the motive of personal connections. The thought process

is one in which creating and maintaining those connections is vital. It’s
about reaching out to others, to create personal relationships that span
both work and personal life.
The types of behaviors associated with affiliation are

• preferring to work with friends and in teams;

• consoling others, particularly during difficult times;
• socializing with coworkers both on and off the job;
• embracing the good times and avoiding conflicts;
• keeping pictures of family, pets, and friends in sight;
• keeping in touch with former colleagues;
• wanting to be liked and accepted.

Understanding Your Motivational Profile

Based on the descriptions for power, achievement, and affiliation, how
do you characterize your motivation?
Create a profile by drawing a set of bar graphs, one for each motive.
Use a total of 20 points to distribute across the three motives like the
ensuing example.
Keep in mind there is no right answer, nor should you expect that
you are equal in all three.

Motivational profile



Power Achievement Affiliation

Is there one particular motive that is highest? Lowest? What does

your profile say about what’s important to you and how you think?
What types of behaviors are easiest for you to demonstrate? More dif-
ficult to demonstrate?

Your motivational profile represents a starting point for what’s import-

ant to you, how you think, and what you do. While your motive profile
basically remains the same, through conscious thought and practice you
can adopt or change certain motive-related behaviors.

According to McClelland, each of us possesses these motives to different

levels. Said another way, each of us has a unique, personal profile of
power, achievement, and affiliation. Understanding this motivational
profile is a way to understand what is important to each of us. There
is no “right” motive profile: We are who we are. As we discussed in
the previous chapter, motives link to certain behaviors. Understand-
ing your own motivation, therefore, helps identify your starting point
or inclination about what comes naturally and what is more difficult.
While changing your underlying basic motivation is very difficult, it is
possible to change your behavior, such as adopting a new skill that may
not come naturally to you. We use this premise in leadership develop-
ment all the time. For example, networking with others or “working the
room” may not come naturally to you, but you can learn to do them
effectively. Such changes take conscious thought, practice, and feed-
back. Over time, these behaviors become more natural and expected,
which suggests that there could be changes in how you think about
them and their importance.
McClelland cuts a wide path for understanding motivation, and his
insights are important to understand the link between what motivates
us, how we think, and what we do. As we look at building expertise, it is
easy to see the link between achievement motivation and how it relates to
acquiring knowledge. Achievement is a driver for learning, particularly as
fuel for “working hard and doing a good job.” Achievement also pushes
the standards, sets the bar, and causes craving for performance-based
feedback. These elements play an important role in both the acquisition
and application of knowledge. The power motive is relevant in the dis-
cussion of leadership as influence. Affiliation plays an important role in
empathy. Both the power and affiliation motives will be explored in the
next chapter.

The Process of Thinking and Learning: A Fundamental

Element in Leadership Development
Thinking about thinking is a fundamental component for effective lead-
ership development. While there is a long history of theories in the fields
of psychology and philosophy for how we think and learn, there are three
contemporary researchers whose concepts are particularly relevant to the
field of leadership development. First is Howard Gardner.8 Gardner’s early
research is based on the concept that each of us has multiple intelligences
rather than one indicated by the general measure for intellectual capacity.
Gardner defined seven intelligences as the linguistic, logical-mathemati-
cal, musical, bodily kinesthetic, spatial-visual, interpersonal, and intrap-
ersonal. Each intelligence represents “the way in which one carries out a
task in virtue of one’s goals.”9 More recently, Gardner turned his attention
to five types of thinking that are needed in the future.10 He refers to these
types as minds, meaning different capacities or perspectives. Each mind
links behaviors and actions with a particular thought process:

1. A disciplined mind to be expert in at least one area

2. A synthesizing mind to put disparate pieces of information together
and communicate them effectively
3. A creative mind first to build the box, then to think outside of it
4. A respectful mind to embrace diversity
5. An ethical mind to think beyond our own interests and to do what is

Gardner’s framework is important for two reasons. First is its general

application to the process of leadership development. Different minds
create different perspectives, and these perspectives broaden leadership
effectiveness across the development process. Second, Gardner’s disci-
plined mind is a fundamental part of the expertise stage, and it lends
credibility to why expertise is critical.
Another leader in the field is Chris Argyris. Argyris’s interest is the con-
nection between the actions people take and the thought processes behind
them. He created two categories to explain how people characterize theories
of action. One is how people describe what they do (espoused theory), and

the second is what people actually do (theory in use). What interests Argyris
is the extent to which what people espouse and what they do align to each
other. That capacity is reflection.12
What Argyris finds most telling about how we think is when we
detect an error or when something is not working out. In other words,
how do we reconcile when the outcome from taking action does not
match our intent? Here he finds two characteristic responses. One is that
people change the action but stick to the original assumptions. He calls
this approach single-loop learning. The second type is to question the
underlying assumptions behind the actions taken. This questioning pat-
tern is double-loop learning. Double-loop learning requires a deeper dive,
greater reflection, and a willingness to question underlying assumptions.13
The relevance of Argyris to our discussion is the flexibility in thinking that
is required at different points in the development process. Sometimes, it’s
a matter of changing what actions we take; at other times it’s a matter of
changing how we frame the situation and the underlying assumptions.
Unlike Gardner and Argyris, Daniel Pink falls outside traditional aca-
demia, but his interests and research into how we think are deep inside
the contemporary dialogue of what’s needed for personal development
and economic success.14 Pink, a former White House speechwriter and
current author, describes how traditional left-brain thinking, the side of
the brain that handles logic, detail, sequence, and analysis, was an import-
ant aspect in the Information Age of the 20th century. However, Pink
contends that right-brain thinking, the side of the brain that handles
emotional expression, synthesis, context, and the big picture, needs to
drive our thinking in the 21st century, the Conceptual Age. Why? While
left-brain thinking is indispensable, it is no longer sufficient to thrive in
a highly connected yet fragmented world. Rather, we need to think in
terms of high concept, the ability to create artistic and emotional beauty,
and high touch, the need for empathy and meaning, to live and contrib-
ute in today’s society.15
To this end, Pink describes a future mindset of six senses:16

• Design: something that is emotionally engaging, not just

• Story: looking at characters and narrative in a situation, not
just argument

• Symphony: the need for synthesis and the big picture, not just
• Empathy: the personal connection, not just logic
• Play: the levity and joy it brings, not just seriousness
• Meaning: seeking purpose and fulfillment

Pink gives us another frame-

Thinking about thinking is a fundamen-
work for thinking about think-
tal component for effective leadership
ing. It stands to reason that
building expertise is based on
logic, analysis, and detail, and
this need does not evaporate. However, the challenge that Pink presents is
an immediate need to engage the other side of the brain as well. Expertise
requires left-brain thinking, but the ability to engage these six senses cre-
ates a benefit for building broader intelligence that begins now and carries
over into the other leadership developmental stages.
The relationship of motivation, thinking and learning, perspective
taking, and behavior are central themes throughout the development
process. The starting point for seeing how these elements tie together is
the expertise stage.

Building a Base of Expertise

Like one of thousands of students who migrated to Boston in the early
1970s, I was sucked into the running craze that was hitting the nation.
Inspired by Boston’s own Bill Rogers, I bought my first pair of running
shoes and started running the familiar loops around Jamaica Pond, Chest-
nut Hill Reservoir, and of course, the Charles River. I developed a steady
diet of two miles, which eventually led to a couple of 5 kilometer fun
runs. There I learned the difference between joggers and runners. Joggers
run for fun and stop at water stations; runners run for time and grab
water on the go. Over the course of next several years, I worked up to
running 10 kilometer races, and by that point, I had several training bud-
dies who had their eyes on the same prize: running a marathon. Since the
Boston marathon requires a qualifying time and intense training in the
darkness of New England winters, we agreed to train for a fall marathon

in Newport, Rhode Island. I had also moved to Rhode Island, so the

choice was a no-brainer.
One of my colleagues had a three-month marathon training plan cre-
ated by a local track coach and marathoner himself, or so I was told. It
was handwritten on a single sheet of paper that was a copy of a copy at
least 10 times over. This was not a plan to go from 0 to 26.2 miles in three
months. While there were specific workouts for the last 90 days, the plan
rested on one important premise: the need to build a base, which, in this
case, was 40 miles a week. First, build a base, and then use a structured
plan to master the distance.17
Like running a marathon, successful leadership requires building a
base, a base of expertise. Unfortunately, this is not as simple as grab-
bing a training schedule from a friend and following it for a few months.
Expertise answers Sarah’s question: “What do I need to know and do in
order to execute my role effectively?” Expertise is the stage in leadership
development focused on learning the content of the job and applying
the knowledge to achieve results. It rests on four critical competencies.
Separately each is important, and collectively they create a platform upon
which additional knowledge, skills, and experiences are built. These com-
petencies are

initiative: the energy, drive, and determination to get results;

discernment: the ability to think analytically and make informed

judgments—to reason and comprehend, particularly about what
is not apparent;

curiosity: a hunger to learn, explore, and dig deeper, especially to

make sense out of uncertainty;

competence: mastery and proficiency—the ability to apply

knowledge and skills that consistently achieve outcomes to pre-
scribed standards in a variety of circumstances and situations.


Initiative is intrinsic motivation. It is fueled by the need to achieve, just as

McClelland describes it. In its rawest form, initiative is also attitude. It’s

drive with a dash of restlessness. It’s in hot pursuit of getting work accom-
plished and taking charge of the situation when needed. Initiative is will
with persistence. What makes initiative a vital component for building
expertise is the energy and desire to take action and drive for results.18


Discernment is a thinking process that exists at several different levels. At

one level, discernment is analytical thinking. It’s the ability to apply logic
and reason to solving problems. It’s understanding what’s inside the box
and how the pieces fit together. For example, several years ago, I had a
car mechanic, Roger. I was having trouble starting my car and managed
to drive in to his garage. He poked around and told me to leave the car
with him overnight. He assured me that he would find and fix the prob-
lem because “no car could outsmart him.” Roger was able to think under
the hood. The final score: Roger 1, Car 0. Roger the warrior; Roger the
analytical thinker.
One of the more common illustrations of analytical thinking is the
use of the scientific method, something that we were encouraged to
develop and use as a default mechanism since grade school. As we know,
the scientific method is a specific set of interrelated steps to define the
problem, create a hypothesis, collect data, test the hypothesis, and draw
conclusions. What makes the scientific method work is the use of a con-
sistent methodology based on structure, logic, and analytical thinking. It
has rigor and discipline. The analytical thought process scales. We use it
to think through a variety of situations from geometry to history, weather
forecasting to party planning, landscaping the front yard to fixing cars.
The scientific method as a problem-solving framework is a good friend.
One aspect of analytical thinking worth singling out is its ability to
see relationships and make connections, such as determining cause and
effect, or understanding the relationship between the whole and its parts.
Additionally, it has the potential to construct, destruct, and reconstruct
the elements of a problem and to search for solutions that are not readily
apparent. As an individual moves through the leadership development
process, the ability to make connections and see relationships broadens in
scope across people, organizations, and the outside world.

At a deeper level, analytical thinking is about sharpening one’s intel-

lectual capacity. A part of this process is the ability to make informed
judgments. This is discernment, the ability to see and understand situ-
ations clearly and intelligently. Consistently solving problems creates a
good batting average. But to hit home runs takes insight, which is the
ability to discern meaning and figure things out at a deeper level.
In the pursuit of framing and substantiating a judgment, there are
several processes at work: the powers of observation, the collection of
data, and the weighing of evidence. What is important is not simply the
pursuit, but the ability to step back and get perspective on the situation:

• What’s going on here?

• What do I “see”?
• What does this mean?
• What might I be missing?
• If I were to change places and look from another angle, what
might be different?
• What am I learning?

The various ways by which we solve problems are indicative of how we

think and learn. Consider the concept of single-loop and double-loop
learning that Argyris describes.19 When a problem occurs and a solution
doesn’t work, single-loop learning questions the actions that were taken.
On the other hand, double-loop learning questions the assumptions that
underlie the actions. It dives below the surface of solving the problem to
understand what is going on. Both types of learning are important, but
it’s knowing when and how to use them that is critical. The ability to step
back, take stock, test assumptions, and gain insight is the value that dis-
cernment brings to the overall process of thinking and learning. Moving
forward, this ability only intensifies.


“What if…?”
What discernment is to thinking logically, curiosity is to thinking cre-
atively. Curiosity has two sides. One side accepts, meaning it embraces

new ideas and diverse perspectives. On the other side, it confronts. It ques-
tions authority, takes risks, and challenges perceived constraints. Curios-
ity is an itch that must be scratched. And when curiosity is unleashed, it
has the power to create scientific breakthroughs and artistic triumphs. It
is reason, and it is passion. For all these reasons, it is a critical competency
needed for leadership.
What makes curiosity important in the expertise stage is its natural
inquisitiveness with questions that come in all shapes and sizes. For cer-
tain they include what and how. But what curiosity seems to fuel is an
insatiable need to go beyond why to contemplate, what if …? Sometimes
it’s illuminating, and sometimes it’s edgy. Sometimes it leads to under-
standing; sometimes, it leads to confusion.
Curiosity is nothing if not relentless. The need to ask questions is
critical to the pursuit of acquiring and applying knowledge and skills, and
building a base of expertise. However, it is not bound by logic. It speaks
to Gardner’s concept of the creative mind.20 It has right-brained emotion
and creativity, plus several of the senses that Pink describes, such as story,
play, and meaning.21
The relationship of curiosity and discernment—inquisitiveness and
judgment—creates a unique dynamic. They are a bit like the odd cou-
ple.22 One is convergent—analyzing clues, making judgments, drawing
conclusions—all neat and tidy. The other is divergent—asking questions,
looking for options, wondering what if—messy and scattered. But they
have figured out how to live together. Independently, each is important,
but together they create a disciplined yet flexible way of thinking that is
conducive to building a solid base of expertise.


Competence, also thought of as mastery or proficiency, is critical to build-

ing a base of expertise. When the term technical competence is used,
it usually refers to the specific content in a chosen technical or scien-
tific field, sometimes thought of as domain knowledge. The true test of
competence is the ability to apply knowledge and skills that consistently
achieves outcomes to prescribed standards in a variety of circumstances
and situations.

Competence looks different based on several factors:

• Differences based on professions

A competent nuclear engineer is different from competent
trainer of border collies: different standards, different skill
sets, and different outcomes.
• Differences based on type and maturity of the business
In a small, entrepreneurial organization, for example,
competent means the ability to oversee all aspects of the
business. In a large multinational complex organization,
competent could refer to highly specialized experience in a
specific area, like international tax codes.
• Differences based on depth of knowledge
At Almo Pharma, for example, an engineer 1 is expected to
master one automation platform, while an engineer 2 must
master two platforms.
• Differences based on depth of knowledge and breadth of
Back at Almo Pharma, to reach the senior 3 engineer
position, a senior 2 must have subject matter expertise in
one specialty and 10 years of broad experience working in all
other technical specialties across the department.

Measuring Competence

There are two schools of thought about what it means to be competent.

One is that competence is an end-state reached by meeting predeter-
mined, professional standards. This method relies on external standards
to measure the level of proficiency. Another school of thought is that
competence is the process of increasing proficiency. In this school, the
value is not so much the diploma but the intrinsic motivation for learning
and getting smarter along the way.23
One external method used to designate a desired level of competence
is the use of licenses, tests, and professional certifications. This method
requires the use of agreed-upon, objective standards to enter a profession

and to stay up to date. For example, to become a certified public accountant

(CPA), an individual must pass a series of examinations.24 Once certified,
the person must take an additional number of professional courses each
year to maintain the license. Other professions such as human resources
use voluntary professional certifications as standards of professionalism.
These designations require specific education and experience.25 The logic
behind the use of designations is that discipline and standards of perfor-
mance create a more competent, credible, and experienced professional.
For many jobs, competence is often determined by a second, less
objective method for rating skill mastery. This happens as part of the
annual performance-review process. The purpose is to characterize mas-
tery as levels of performance expectations for any number of technical
skills and nontechnical behaviors. For example, a manager might rate an
employee’s performance on a Likert scale such as

1 = fails to meet expectations;

2 = partially meets expectations;
3 = consistently meets expectations;
4 = meets and sometimes exceeds expectations;
5 = exceeds expectations.

Measuring competence only in terms of performance expectations, how-

ever, can be problematic. First, the fact that someone is rated as meets
expectations doesn’t necessarily mean the person has mastered a particular
skill or competency. Is meets considered satisfactory, or should someone
strive for exceeds? Second, expectations are not always explicit and clearly
defined. Some managers meet routinely to set expectations; others set
expectations once a year at the annual review. A third problem is the
organizational inconsistency in defining and rating expectations. One
manager’s exceeds is another manager’s meets. We’re still left to question
the levels of objectivity and consistency with which standards are used
across the organization.
A different, more objective method for rating competence is the use of
a continuum of skill mastery. Take the example of learning how to snow
ski. The ratings might be

1 = learns the basics of balance, shifting weight, turning, and stopping;

2 = skis beginner trails and masters the basics;
3 = routinely skis the intermediate trails without falling;
4 = masters moguls and jumps;
5 = skis Suicide Hill and other expert trails with finesse.

The benefit of this approach is that it demonstrates a progression for how

skill acquisition and mastery result in higher levels of performance. It also
reflects a mindset and a culture for skill development. Rather than some
generalized rating of meets or exceeds expectations, this approach incor-
porates the mastery of the skills needed to go from skiing the bunny slope
to attacking Suicide Hill. It also means that the organization has taken
the time to define standards and to encourage its members to continue to
learn and strive to get better.

Mastery as an Intrinsic Motivator

Do you recall a high-school math problem about the possibility of walk-

ing out the doorway of a room if you take specific-size steps? From across
the room you start with a full step, then a half-step, followed by half of
that step, and so on. The question: Do you ever reach the doorway? The
answer: Stay tuned.
Think of mastery as an element needed to build competence. In Drive,
the Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink describes mas-
tery in a context similar to the math problem. Mastery is something we
continually strive for, to make it through the doorway. It is an important
motivational force maximized by personal engagement rather than com-
pliance to expectations or standards. Mastery is important not because it
drives performing to a standard (an extrinsic motivator), but, because it
pushes us to get better (an intrinsic motivator). As Pink puts it, “Mastery
is the desire to get better and better at something that matters.”26
According to Pink, there are three components to mastery:

1. “Mastery is an asymptote.” In algebra, an asymptote is a straight line

that a curve approaches but never touches.27 Here is the high-school
math problem revisited. Regardless of where you start in the room,

you never make it through the doorway—close, closer, closer, but

never over the threshold. However, you are determined to get as close
as you can. Such is the case with mastery. You get close, but never
touch it. The motivation is continuous learning and improvement,
the thrill of the chase, frustrating at times but nonetheless the drive
that keeps you in relentless pursuit.
2. “Mastery is a mindset.” According to psychologist, researcher, and
author Carol Dweck, people tend to hold two different views of
their intelligence: as an entity, meaning there is a finite amount of
intelligence, or as incremental, meaning that, with effort, intelligence
can be increased. Dweck explains that these two self-theories lead
to different types of goals: performance goals and learning goals.
When the goal is to perform, the focus is on results. When the goal
is to learn, the focus is not just on results but what’s learned from
the experience. Learning keeps the mind fresh, active, and resilient.
What is most telling between the two views is the difference in han-
dling adversity. For the entity theory individual, the feeling is one of
helplessness or failure when confronted by adversity. For the incre-
mental theory individual, the feeling is one of mastery, because one
can always strive to get better.28 In the context of leadership develop-
ment, mastery is about striving to get better.
3. Mastery is pain. In citing studies conducted on West Point cadets,
Pink describes what separates those that make it through boot camp
isn’t physical stamina or athletic ability: it’s grit. According to sociol-
ogist Daniel Chambliss in his study of Olympic swimmers, “grit may
be as essential as talent to high accomplishment.”29 Geoff Colvin
reaches a similar conclusion about “what really separates world-class
performers from everybody else.” It’s deliberate practice, which psy-
chologist Anders Ericsson describes as “not inherently enjoyable.”30
To say the least, mastery is handling the mundane with resilience and

Expertise Is Getting Smart

Expertise is a potent combination of motivational energy, analytical

judgment, basic curiosity, and skill mastery. It is much more than

acquiring knowledge or logging time. Rather, it is a dynamic state where

experimentation, learning, insight, and practice get you close to but
never reach a state of mastery. It’s fueled by the need to achieve and get
results. It requires balancing discernment and curiosity—to stay
grounded but nimble, logical but not too logical, confident but ques-
tioning. Expertise is critical to leadership but alone does not predict
leadership success.
Getting smart is going to be a theme
It’s not about being smart, it’s throughout the leadership-development
about getting smart. process. It starts with learning about the
job. Next it turns to learning about people.

Chapter Summary

Mentoré leadership stage comparisons

Expertise stage
Track record
Knowledge & experience
Student of knowledge
Native intelligence
How smart you are
Knowing your subject matter

Taking Stock

• One theme in leadership development is understanding

basic motivation. David McClelland’s theory of motivation
describes three sources of motivational energy we possess that
influence the way we think and shape our behavior. Power
is the motive of influence; achievement, the motive of goal
attainment; and affiliation, the motive of close, personal
• A second theme in leadership development is understanding
of how we think and learn. Gardner uses the concept

of multiple intelligence and minds to describe different

perspectives and points of view. Argyris describes single- and
double-loop learning, the difference between looking at
actions and assumptions behind the actions. Pink describes
differences in logical, analytical left-brain thinking and
emotional, intuitive right-brain thinking. Leadership is
going to take whole-brain thinking.
• The first stage of leadership development is expertise.
Expertise is a platform supported by four basic competencies:
initiative, discernment, curiosity, and competence. Together
they create the base upon which other leadership skills,
competencies, and behaviors are built.
• Initiative is intrinsic motivation. It is drive, the need to
achieve. It is the fuel that converts thoughts into actions,
and actions into results. Even beyond the stage of expertise,
initiative is important as a willingness to jump in, step up,
take responsibility, and get results.
• Discernment is the ability not only to think logically, but to
form judgments. By stepping back and gaining perspective,
discernment searches not only for causation but also for
meaning and insight. Discernment moves from what to why.
It helps sort through an avalanche of data to find what’s
most relevant. Moving forward, the ability to make informed
judgments with less-than-perfect information will be integral
to effective leadership.
• Curiosity is asking questions, particularly what if, and
opening closed doors. Curiosity is not logical and it likes that
by itself. Curiosity is inquisitiveness, sometimes unrestrained,
and willing to take intellectual risks. While curiosity may not
jump completely out of the box, it at least opens the lid and
looks outside.
• Competence in specific terms is knowing when and how
to apply knowledge and skill to a range of situations to get
results. In general terms, it is knowing your stuff and doing
a good job. Competence is fluency. It represents a perpetual

state for learning, where the life of work and work of life are
exciting and motivating.
• Thinking about thinking is the doorway to reflection and
insight. These are particularly important as you move into the
other stages of leadership development.
• Expertise is important as a base component of leadership.
Expertise alone, however, does not guarantee leadership

What You Can Do Tomorrow

There are many activities and situations that you can engage in to build a
base of expertise. In doing so, this is also a great way to engage others in
the process—your manager, senior leaders in the organization, and your
colleagues. It’s all about getting smart, which makes this a continuous
process. Given as follows is a list of activities for you to consider and to
spark other ideas.

Ideas and Activities to Build Expertise

Take Initiative

• Tackle an important task that your organization has discussed

but no one has taken on.
• Volunteer to work on a project with experienced individuals
where you can learn something new.
• It’s not unusual for individuals to complete a task at
the 80 percent level, but finishing is another story. Make
sure that you close out every important task in front of
you. Think about who you need to inform once that it is
• Taking initiative is an attitude, but it’s also a drive to action.
Initiative is taking steps in a desired direction. Write down
your goals and objectives. Make them real, actionable,
concrete, and measurable where you can.

Increase Discernment, Judgment, and Problem-Solving Capabilities

• Look for challenging assignments that test your reasoning and

problem-solving ability.
• Find others who you think are good problem solvers. Spend
time with them to understand not only what they do but how
they think through a given situation.
• Enlist the help of a leader and potential mentor who is a
good teacher, willing to share his or her ideas and impart
knowledge as well as challenge and test your abilities.
• Read biographies or autobiographies of great leaders,
particularly in your field of interest. Look for how they
thought through and made judgments. What can you learn
from them? Take notes and ask yourself what these ideas
mean to you.

Stay Curious

• Think about new ways to solve the same situation or how to

use the same solution to solve related problems.
• Look across situations and problems to see if there are
patterns and explanations that are not obvious at first glance.
• Curiosity leads to creativity and innovation, and that happens
in context by discussing ideas with others. So seek out
colleagues to test ideas and assumptions. Buy them pizza if
you need to bribe them.
• Don’t jump at the first answer or explanation that you find.
Don’t be afraid to dig deeper or dig differently by asking
what if.
• Curiosity fosters insight, and insight can strike when you least
expect it. Don’t be afraid to let your imagination kick in, even
when your thoughts don’t seem relevant. The aha moment can
hit you in the shower or on the drive home. Don’t miss out.
• Ask good questions. Perfect the art of probing to get below
the surface level of a situation. Look for examples and

Build Competence

• Competence is skill mastery and proficiency. Think of it as a

process, not an end state. This keeps you engaged, humble,
and hungry for more knowledge.
• Ask for feedback from your manager, colleagues, or others
whom you trust. It’s not just performance feedback that’s
important, but it’s also learning and getting ideas that lead to
greater proficiency.
• Test your ideas and assumptions with colleagues. Learn from
• Learn from mistakes, both your own and of the team.
Contribute to an environment of learning, not blaming.
Carry over this same attitude when asking for feedback if
something did not turn out the way you wanted. Think
problem solving, not blame.
• Debrief all key decisions, initiatives, or projects. What did
you learn? What changes, if any, are needed?

Stage Two: Credibility

A Kaleidoscopic Shift
Life in the Labyrinth

Previously we discussed that building expertise answers the question

what—What do I need to know and do to execute my role effectively?
The value derived from technical expertise is the application of knowledge
and experience to solve problems, get results, and create greater efficiency
and effectiveness in the process.
In stage two of leadership development, the focus changes from exper-
tise to credibility. Building credibility answers the question who—Who
do I need to build relationships with in order to execute my role effec-
tively? Credibility is the medium through which others trust you, and as
we will see, this trust is built on your ability and desire to help others solve
their problems.
Credibility and trust are the foundation for building relationships.
While expertise can be measured objectively in terms of concrete metrics
or standards of performance, credibility is measured subjectively by oth-
ers’ perceptions. It is not simply what you do, but how others perceive
what you do that makes you credible.
How can you impact this perception? Demonstrating technical,
job-related expertise is clearly part of the answer, but expertise alone does
not make you credible. Credibility is not simply about how smart you are,
your experience, or your title. In fact, it is not about you at all. It’s about
the other person. It’s about your ability to connect with others and pro-
vide something of value to them. If expertise requires you to be a student
of subject matter, then credibility requires you be a student of people.


Credibility stage
Credibility is built on your ability to commit and deliver value to
others. It is the basis for developing and managing relationships.
It is an important stage for any new leader, and is also critical for
the technical professional looking to achieve technical status as a
subject matter expert.

Credibility competencies
Relationship management: establishing rapport, making connections,
building relationships, and creating networks critical to both short- and
long-term goals
Character and moral courage: the demonstration of integrity and the
highest professional standards even when facing adversity or making the
tough decisions—how you choose to do business
Credibility and trust: building a positive reputation based on your abil-
ity to commit and deliver value to others
Effective communication and influence skills: the ability to listen, to
communicate at the level of the audience, and to persuade others effectively
by identifying common ground and striving for mutually beneficial outcomes

If expertise is measured in terms of IQ or native intelligence, then credi-

bility is measured in terms of EI or emotional intelligence.

Relationship Management as Emotional Intelligence

In 1995, Daniel Goleman changed the landscape of leadership develop-
ment by introducing the concept of Emotional Intelligence.1 Goleman

followed in the footsteps of a now familiar name, David McClelland,

Harvard professor and authority in the field of motivational research, and
Goleman’s main thesis advisor. Historically, McClelland emerged from a
long line of 20th century researchers interested in performance excellence.
In the early part of the century, Frederick Taylor described performance
in terms of movement and efficiency, studying people as machines. Fol-
lowing Taylor was the introduction of IQ as a standard for performance.
IQ equated success with mental capacity. Then Freudian thinking and
personality factors began to play a role in characterizing performance.2
In the early 1970s, however, McClelland wanted to test for compe-
tence rather than IQ.3 He and his research team began interviewing star
performers in organizations to determine what they did and how they
thought in a series of self-described critical events. What they discov-
ered has ushered in the modern-day era of competencies as behavioral
standards for performance—the knowledge, skills, traits, and pattern of
habits that differentiate outstanding from average performance. Other
McClelland colleagues including Boyatzis4 and Spencer5 dug deeper
into an understanding of these competencies and derived a similar find-
ing: interpersonal skills, not IQ, are better indicators and predictors of
performance excellence. In quoting Spencer’s findings, Zenger writes:
“The competencies of achievement orientation, influence, and personal
effectiveness will likely account for 80 to 98 percent of all competency
Goleman’s interest was in researching the brain to understand how
logic—left-brain thinking—and emotion—right-brain thinking—interact
to create successful performance. What Goleman has given us is the lan-
guage to characterize a unique set of performance-enhancing behaviors.
Simply stated, EI is the ability to connect with others. Goleman’s research
demonstrates that building these connections is not secondary, optional,
or soft. It is primary, necessary, and hard for successful performance. And
EI takes on an even larger role in characterizing leadership effectiveness.7

A Turn of the Kaleidoscope

Goleman tells us that EI begins with self-awareness and self-regulation. It

starts with knowing what is critical and important to you, the individual.

With this knowledge as a base, a person

moves from self-knowledge to understand-
ing what is important to others. Rapport,
empathy, and what Goleman describes as
social radar create this ability to connect.8
Credibility Expertise
This insight is important because it
marks the point of inflection from exper-
tise to credibility, a point characterized as
(a) a change in perspective—from me to
others—and (b) a change in mindset, from technical expertise to personal
credibility. However, this shift doesn’t mean that technical expertise goes
away. Rather, the shift is an evolution of understanding that personal effec-
tiveness and job performance are part of a bigger equation. Like turning the
kaleidoscope, the picture changes, and what you see changes as well. To build
technical expertise, you see situations; to build credibility, you see people.

Empathy, Making an Emotional Connection

An emotional connection is connecting

We are wired to connect. on a personal level, and this is a huge
Daniel Goleman part of emotional intelligence. At the
base of these connections is empathy,
the ability to recognize the emotions in others. When empathy is real,
there is heart-felt sincerity and a personal connection. When empathy is
faked, the insincerity is palpable and destructive.
Emotional situations require the ability to tune in at an emotional level.
Conger points out that using logical reasoning in emotional situations
does not work. When logic and emotion collide, there is no connection.9
When a person is emotional—angry, frustrated, or discouraged—using
logic to convince that individual not to be angry, frustrated, or discour-
aged does not compute. For example, you go to the dealership to pick
up your car from a routine service appointment. The manager tells you
it won’t be ready until tomorrow. You’re angry (emotion). He tells you
the part did not arrive, the mechanic went home early with the flu, and
the dog ate your paperwork (all logical reasons). Now you’re really angry
(more emotion).

A better response in this situation is, “Dr. Doll, I know you’re angry
and you have every right to be. I said your car would be ready at 5pm
and it isn’t. Let me drive you home now and arrange to get you in the
morning. If you’d prefer to take a loaner, I can have it ready to go in five
minutes.” What makes this response better is the connection—“I know
you’re angry and you have every right to be.” Excuses are attempts at
logical justifications. Better to work at an emotional level first, and then
move forward.

Choosing How You Do Business

Character and Moral Courage

Character, while an important element in building credibility, is con-

sidered by many leadership experts as the most essential characteristic
for leadership success. Character is what 19th century author Cyrus
Bartol describes as “the diamond that scratches every other stone, the
only source of power that can add or subtract from every other source.”10
Contemporary experts in the leadership field, Bennis,11 Kouzes and Pos-
ner,12 and Covey,13 also describe the important role that character plays in
effective leadership. Zenger and Folkman, whose research spanned more
than 25,000 leaders, are emphatic: “Our research confirms that personal
character is absolutely at the heart of effective leadership.”14

Your image
Here is something for you to consider:

How do you describe your own image, meaning, how do you think you
do business?

How do you think others describe your image?

Don’t know? Ask two people whose opinions you value—they don’t
have to be your best friend or your sworn enemy.

Struck by the power of first impressions you have of other people?

What’s the first impression others have about you?

To what extent does how you see yourself and how others see you impact
what you want to do as a leader?

Character defines the individual as culture defines the organization.

Both represent a way for doing business. In contemporary speak, char-
acter is your personal brand. The way people judge how you do business
is based on behavior, not words. We think of character as how a person
constructs his own unique context, a personal culture created by his deci-
sions, choices, and most importantly, actions.
Critical to character are integrity and professionalism, the standards
to which a person adheres in everyday transactions and personal interac-
tions. Character speaks to an appreciation of what makes us alike and a
sensitivity and respect for what makes us different. Character is also moral
courage, the confidence to make tough decisions and do what is right,
even in the face of opposition. If technical competence is the head, and
EI, the heart, then character is the soul.

Trust-Building Behaviors
Build a Track Record of Success

One of the first opportunities to build credibility begins by using techni-

cal expertise to build a track record of success. This is a conscious process,
not simply a secondary gain for doing good work. Even in the swirl of
daily activity, a person can choose to build a track record and reputa-
tion as someone capable, competent, consistent, and reliable. It is the
self-awareness that, as you gain experience, there are many opportunities
to provide value to others. When people see you working in their best
interests and helping them solve their problems, they remember. Small
actions like a timely response to an e-mail, following up after a problem
is resolved, or just checking in with a colleague make big differences.
Conversely, when others feel ignored or dismissed by a lack of response,
personal credibility is diminished.

From the Cube to the Hallway

First popularized by management guru Tom Peters, the concept of “Man-

agement by Walking Around”—MBWA—affirms the importance of vis-
ibility, the need for a manager to be out and about.15 Visibility builds
credibility. Like Peters, I had the opportunity to work with several

people at Hewlett-Packard who told the legendary stories of the compa-

ny’s founders, how they made the rounds when visiting an H-P facility,
talking to different individuals or working with a project team, eating
pizza, and staying until late at night to lend assistance.
The need for visibility, however, is not limited to managers. Given
the complexity of modern-day organizations, visibility can be challeng-
ing and time consuming for anyone. Therefore, there is value for you to
leave the cube and hit the hallway. Think of it as “Credibility by Walking
Around”—“CBWA.” Since visibility and direct communication are at a
premium, taking a proactive step to be out and about increases personal
accessibility, two-way communication and dialogue, and ultimately cred-
ibility and trust.

Strategic Visibility

Get in Front of the Right People

Another credibility-related consideration is increasing visibility to senior

management both inside and outside your organization. One opportunity


Think about increasing your visibility and credibility with specific

­people. For example:

Look through your calendar for the next two weeks. Identify a person
with whom you need to spend time because he is a key person but you
don’t interact with him routinely. Make sure that you are visible at the
meeting by spending a few minutes one on one, and setting up a time to
meet to discuss something relevant to both of you.

Is there a particular senior-level manager, either in your organization or

in a different group that would be beneficial to get to know? Work with
your manager to determine how you might get in front of this individ-
ual. This could be making an introduction, asking you to be present at
a meeting, or setting up a lunch together. Meeting with them can often
take the form of drawing on their experience and insight into a particu-
lar issue and to share your perspective as well.

is to join a cross-functional initiative. Often these projects enable you to

meet key individuals in other organizations and expand your networks.
Depending on the nature of the initiative, you may also have direct access
to senior leaders across the organization. A second and longer-term con-
sideration is to strategize with your manager about what leaders in what
organizations you need to get in front of as part of your professional

Build Networks

Networks constitute unique sets of relationships. One type of network

consists of those individuals in the critical path of accomplishing a goal.
Your interactions with them is through a network of relationships cre-
ated for a particular purpose such as completing a project, implementing
a program, or securing resources. How you maintain these connections
afterward is critical.
Another type of network has less to do with a particular goal and more
to do with building a broad base of support. You join a cross-functional
task force because it gives you access to individuals and senior leadership
in other departments that you might never meet on your own. You join
professional organizations to exchange war stories and best practices, per-
haps to look for a job or search for a job candidate. You join the board of
the Boys and Girls Club to meet important community leaders. As Uzzi
and Dunlap describe, these types of connections broaden your base of
credibility and influence through access to information and people with
different skill sets and different networks.16

Visibility Without Physical Presence

Step Up One-on-One Communications

Working face-to-face with people has the advantage of physical presence,

direct observation, and the opportunity to read nonverbal cues. What is
more challenging is visibility without physical presence—working with
virtual teams, or business partners in different locations, or customers
and suppliers anywhere in the world. Teleconferences and virtual meet-
ings do not have the same impact as face-to-face interactions. What is

critical for creating effective working relationships in these situations is

to build visibility outside of these meetings through one-on-one com-
People in procurement, for example, understand the importance
of talking to their suppliers on a routine basis, many of whom they
have never met face-to-face. They do not rely on e-mails or teleconfer-
ences to substitute for a more personalized, higher touch, and visible
presence. Take the example of a successful project manager who has a
worldwide implementation team. Not only does she speak with key indi-
viduals in advance of critical meetings, she follows up with personal-
ized ­discussions—not e-mail—as needed. She understands the need to
be visible even when physical presence is not possible. Furthermore, she
knows that when she does travel to certain locations, she makes a point
to meet project team members and build rapport in less-formal settings.
It is amazing what sharing a coffee or having an adult beverage after
work can do when meeting individuals with whom you normally have
long-distance relationships.
The bottom line: when you are out of sight, consider yourself out of
mind. Do not rely on group meetings to substitute for more personalized,
one-on-one communications when you need to establish visibility and

Connecting at a Personal and Emotional Level


Making personal and emotional connections is more than saying, “I feel

your pain.” If you were to say that, do not be surprised if someone retorts,
“You have no idea how I feel.” Connecting is at a person to person level—
me and you. It takes several forms:

1. Listen closely to others when they are talking about something

important and potentially emotional, and think about how best to
respond. Especially, if someone wants you to listen or begins talking
out a situation, the best thing for you to do is listen and speak judi-
ciously. Making a connection means acknowledging the emotion,
such as saying “that’s tough, you have every right to be angry,” “you

have to feel good about this,” or “how are you holding up” are
acknowledgments at a personal, emotional level. You don’t have to
overdo this. Be real and sincere.
2. Use the power of a personal note, as in an old-fashioned written
note. The 5 minutes it takes to write demonstrates personal sincerity
and attention. A written thank you note or a card to colleagues or
team members speaks volumes. E-mail for this purpose is a distant
3. Check in with colleagues, associates, direct reports, even your
­manager, with no agenda other than to see how someone is doing.
In-person is better than the phone, but both work.
4. Think of someone who you think easily connects with others, people
with different interests and backgrounds. Observe what they do and
how they do it. If you know them well, ask them about what they’re
thinking and doing in making connections.
5. Watch for situations where someone misses an opportunity to make
an emotional connection. Perhaps, they respond with logic and rea-
son to a situation where someone is frustrated. Observe the response.
Make a mental note of what you would do differently in that situ-
6. You don’t have to sound like Dr. Phil or Oprah to make emotional
connections. Be respectful of others, and be yourself. This is a con-
versation that needs to be in your own voice.
7. Use a journal or diary to make weekly notations for one meeting or
interaction in which you felt you connected well with an individual
or group on a personal level. Recall what you thought, said, and did
that created the connection. Think of a situation or interaction that
did not go the way you wanted it to go. What was missing? What
would you do differently?
8. Connecting and networking with people you don’t know is some-
times difficult. Prepare for the next networking situation in which
you’re involved, such as a professional association or perhaps a meet-
ing with people in another department you don’t know that well.
The key is rapport, looking for something in common with others.
Think of three to four questions that you can ask that would open
the door to a conversation. (Here’s a big hint—last year’s insane

­ inter weather, the Red Sox, the latest phone app, or the trials of
raising teenagers.)

Effective Communication
You might think that a leader must have good communication skills as a
prerequisite for getting the job. This is like saying that a bartender must
know basic drink recipes in order to get hired. However, Zenger and
Folkman tell us that effective communication is actually at a premium for
leaders. It’s not something that every leader possesses; rather, it differen-
tiates outstanding from average performers. One of the unique distinc-
tions is that effective leaders routinely rely on two-way communication to
encourage input and buy-in.17
Drucker also weighs in on the importance of communication. He
describes how the amount of communication in contemporary times
would be unimaginable to those who first began to study the problems of
communication in organizations. Drucker laments:

Communications have proven as elusive as the unicorn. The noise

level has gone up so fast that no one can really listen anymore to
all the babble about communications. But there is clearly less and
less communicating.18

And Drucker wrote this in 1974!

In chronicling the fundamentals of effective communication, Drucker
stresses the ability to listen. He uses Plato’s analogy that one must “speak
to carpenters in carpenter metaphors” to emphasize understanding your
audience. And, he stresses the importance of communication in the con-
veyance of perceptions, expectations, demands, and information.19

The Crucible: The Conversation

It is difficult to think of a skill today that could be any more important

than effective communication. The crucible—the place where communi-
cation is maximized, where two people together can transform thoughts
and feelings into decisive and responsible actions—is through one

important structure. That structure is the conversation. Conversations are

critical dialogues where there is both speaking and listening. By intent,
conversations engage. Drucker says it best: “There can be no communica-
tion if it is conceived as going from the ‘I’ to the ‘Thou.’ Communication
works only from one member of ‘us’ to another.”20
Here’s the operative thought: “from one member of us to another.”
Recently, a colleague expressed frustration at a meeting of the firm’s lead-
ership where they discussed a new project. Apparently, there was open
communication, the part about saying what’s on your mind and put-
ting agendas on the table. But what was missing was engagement. My
colleague’s assessment of the problem: no one listens. Talking without
listening is a monologue, and
Talking without listening is a monologue,
dueling monologues do not
and dueling monologues do not equal a
equal a dialogue, much less a
dialogue, much less a conversation.

Active Listening

Most of us understand the speaking part of communication. To build

credibility, however, the part to master is listening, specifically active lis-
Active listening incorporates the following elements that I describe as
the FLÉR principle:21

1. Focus
Whether in one-on-one or group discussions, face-to-face or tel-
ephone conversations, active listening begins by focusing on the indi-
vidual who is speaking. In face-to-face interactions, focus requires
direct eye contact and open posture. Telephone discussions require
listening. Think of this as uni-tasking, not multitasking, such as
talking to one person and e-mailing another person simultaneously.
Whether sitting around a table at a meeting, eating lunch, or sitting
behind your desk, to engage in conversation, focus on the other per-
son. Ditch the distractions. And most importantly, clear your head.
Be prepared to listen.
Several years ago, I had a client who described a situation where
he needed to discuss a very sensitive and immediate personal issue.

He was extremely upset, so he called his manager and said he really

needed to talk. Because it was very quiet on the other end of the call,
he thought his manager was really listening to what he had to say—
until he heard tapping on the keyboard in the background. When
someone says “I need to talk,” take that as code for “I need you to
listen.” Multitasking is not the focus in this case; it’s disrespect.
2. Listen
Listening is disciplined. It is the ability to be present, in the moment,
with a stilled and focused mind. Listening is also facile and spon-
taneous. It is the ability to hear beyond the spoken word. It takes
practice, lots of practice. Daniel Pink makes a relevant point. Pink
says, that “we are our stories.”22 If that’s true, then conversations are
stories within the story. As the listener, your role is to understand
the other person’s story—the characters, the plot, and the big so-
what moment. If the other person is not telling a story, your role is
to help him or her by asking questions and getting the appropriate
Listening also requires the ability to ask probing questions
at the appropriate moment. If you need detail, clarification, or
­information, asking who, what, and when is important. If you need
to understand more subjective, evaluative information such as the
person’s perspective, motivation, or perception, asking open-ended
questions such as how and why is appropriate: “How did others react
to Avi’s response?” “Why did you decide not to speak up?” “What do
you think Sonja was thinking? Why were you upset about what she
Open-ended, probing questions are one of the more critical
communication skills, and they directly link to active listening.
Sometimes people feel that asking questions is unnecessary or rude.
However, asking questions appropriately serves three purposes:

• Asking questions is a way to understand not only the facts

but what someone is thinking or feeling during a situation.
Most of us tend to talk at a surface level, like “the meeting
was a disaster” or “you know how Charlie is,” or—my
personal favorite—that something was “interesting.”
Without probing, how will you know why this person

thought the meeting was a disaster, what makes Charlie

Charlie, or what interesting means in this case. There’s more
to be understood, and effective probing is one way to get
below the surface.
• Asking questions is a way to keep the conversation on
track. Some individuals want to discuss all the details, or
jump from one topic to another. An appropriate question
like, “can you give me a headline here” or “what’s the
bottom line,” or “what was the next most important part”
are techniques to keep the conversation headed in the right
• Asking questions is an indication of interest and concern,
meaning that you want to understand what’s critical to
the person who’s speaking. If your questions are fast and
accusatory, the person may feel that he or she is under
investigation. But when your questions are open and
reaffirming, the person can sense a personal connection.

3. Éngage23
Engagement is the give and take of the conversation, an acknowledg-
ment of what’s important from both a logical and emotional per-
spective, and an opportunity to move the conversation forward by
taking action when appropriate. If there is a need to resolve a prob-
lem, engage in discussing next steps. If there is a need to align expec-
tations, engage in how you will do that. When people are engaged in
true dialogue, it builds what Covey describes as the “emotional bank
account,” the currency for building trust and, as we will see, effective
4. Restate
Restatement or paraphrasing is the act of playing back what you’ve
just heard. It serves two purposes: It demonstrates that you are listen-
ing, and it is an opportunity to see if you get the story right. When
you restate by saying something like, “Let me see if I understand
what you’re saying,” you let the speaker know that you value what
she has to say. Like probing questions, restatement is a powerful
communication and credibility-building technique.

“Speaking to Carpenters With Carpenter Metaphors”

In building credibility, the pendulum swings from understanding the job

to understanding the people with whom you are working. Most of us
operate as if the world thinks like we do. With building credibility, how-
ever, comes this insight: It’s not about you. It’s about the people with
whom you interact. Where this is particularly important is when it comes
to speaking the language of your audience.
Have you ever witnessed a meeting that blew up because someone
delivered a highly technical presentation to a group of people that didn’t
understand one thing about what was being said? In this situation, it’s
the presenter who missed it. The assumption that the audience shares
the same level of knowledge, need for detail, or even general interest
is flawed. Tailoring the message to the individual or group with whom
you are communicating is mandatory for credibility. It entails advanced
preparation and on-the-spot adjustments: the EI needed to understand
and read an audience. When successful, matching your communication
to the audience creates acceptance. Failure to match the level of under-
standing creates all types of questions that can lead to mistrust. Because
perception drives credibility, you have to learn to speak the language of
the people with whom you’re dealing, not the other way around. With-
out a common base of understanding, there’s little traction for building

Understanding the Perspective of Others

Understanding the perspective of others is the extent to which you can

articulate what is critical to another person, walk in their shoes, and view
the world as they do. It is the expression of your appreciation for the
other person’s point of view. When people feel that you have heard them,
that you understand their perspective, they are more likely to trust you.
Understanding another person’s perspective, however, does not mean
that you necessarily agree with it. What it signifies is that you are lis-
tening and understand their viewpoint. As we shall see, understanding
what is important to others is the starting point for another important
­credibility-building behavior, influence.

Effective Influence
Influence is derived from the power motive that McClelland describes,
the need to have a desired impact on others. Influencing others happens
through the power of building relationships. Bacon notes that it should
come as no surprise that “we say yes to the requests of someone we know
and like.”25 Bacon tells us that interpersonal relationships are based on
reciprocity, a mutual exchange of give and take.26 What this means is that
if I cooperate with you, I expect you to cooperate with me. This give-
and-take framework inside relationships is where cooperation, collabora-
tion, influence, commitment, and buy-in take place.
Just how important is influence to job success? Although he started
with a somewhat different premise, Daniel Pink wanted to find out.
Beginning with an analysis of his own calendar and later commissioning
a study he dubbed the “What Do You Do at Work Survey,” Pink reached
two major conclusions from the surveys of more than 7,000 adult full-
time workers in the United States:

1. People are spending more than 40 percent of their time at work

engaged in nonsales selling—persuading, influencing, and convinc-
ing others in ways that don’t involve anyone making a purchase.
Across a range of professions, we are devoting roughly 24 minutes of
every hour to moving others.
2. People consider this aspect of their work crucial to their professional
success—even in excess of the considerable amount of time they
devote to it.27

This nonsales selling, what Pink describes as moving, is growing in impor-

tance, particularly as more people move into their own entrepreneurial
businesses.28 The need underscores my premise that leadership, the ability
to influence others to the point they take decisive and responsible action, is
a skill set that extends far beyond the traditional notion of managing others.

Influence Skills
Cialdini,29 Bacon,30 and Goleman31 have identified several critical influ-
ence techniques and behaviors through their research. In consideration

of their works and what I have found most effective in working with my
clients, I break influence into four components:

1. Reading people—particularly to understand body language and

nonverbal communication
2. Reading situations—to understand the politics, who has the power,
who makes decisions, and how decisions are made
3. Role perspective—knowing what is important to others, to see a sit-
uation as they see it, to establish rapport and connect
4. Persuasion techniques—using techniques that are appropriate to the
individuals and the situation

Each of these areas represents behaviors that someone can learn. Particu-
larly for the uninitiated, effective influence requires increasing one’s pow-
ers of observation, tuning in to people and situations, and following a
skill-development regime that requires practice, patience, and feedback.

1. Reading people is fundamental for effective influence. For some,

reading people is a sixth sense. It naturally informs. It has the quality
of emotional intelligence that Goleman describes as social radar.32
For others, reading people seems mystical, a clueless condition
that my former business partner referred to as “a missing chip.” In
between these extremes lie the trainable skill of reading people from
their verbal and nonverbal language, and the linkage, or disconnect,
between the two. Dr. Albert Mehrabian claims that only 7 percent
of any message is conveyed through words, while 38 percent comes
through tone of voice, and 55 percent through nonverbal actions
such as body language, facial expressions, and gestures. While some
question these exact percentages, most agree that a significant part of
communication is nonverbal and therefore important to understand
the person and the real message.33
2. Reading situations is a bit trickier. Interpersonal dynamics and poli-
tics are critical. Understanding what’s going on requires a keen sense of
observation, watching how people interact and react to each other. Pol-
itics are linked to how decisions are made and who makes them. Under-
standing “who has the power” or “who calls the shots” is not always

obvious or based on the organizational hierarchy. Why is this important

to understand? Imagine that you need sell an idea or influence the out-
come of a decision. According to Pink, there is a 40 percent chance you
could be doing this at any time on any day of the week. Here the mis-
sion is very clear: Find out how decisions are made, who makes them,
and what you need to do to influence this person or group.
3. Earlier I described that understanding the perspective of others is
important to build credibility. More to the point, it is fundamental
for effective influence. Influence starts with understanding what is
important to the person or people with whom you are engaged.
It defines an area bounded by what others need and what you
need, and it looks for common ground. As Goleman explains, it’s
also the basis for establishing rapport and the doorway to empa-
thy.34 Empathy springs from the affiliation motive that McClel-
land describes. It underlies meaningful relationships, and it is the
currency of social interactions, the give and take of engagement
that was described earlier. When we relate to each other, we under-
stand each other. Agreement is not the point, but understanding
is. Without the ability to understand others’ perspectives, it is easy
to launch into one-way, take it or leave it, selling mode. To quote
Covey’s Habit #5: “Seek first to understand, then to be under-
4. Using persuasion techniques, like communication in general, means
understanding the audience and situation in which you are involved.
Effective persuasion runs the gamut from the logical to the emo-
tional. On the one hand, certain techniques are linked to logic,
data, and understanding. They aim at the head. These techniques are
commonly used as proof for why something should or should not
happen. Particularly in technical environments, logical persuasion
techniques reign supreme. On the other hand, there are techniques
that appeal to emotion. They are linked to feelings and personal
connections. They aim at the heart. “We’re all in this together” and
“doing what’s right for the customer” are appeals to emotion, to cre-
ate a common vision. When are these emotional appeal techniques
effective? Conger describes this in “The Art of Persuasion.”36 When
the situation calls for a personal connection (“You have reason to be

upset that your car’s not ready”), emotional persuasion, not logical
persuasion, is required. If you have any doubts, try using logic rea-
soning when someone is visibly emotional. To reinforce a general
theme, the important point is your ability to match the techniques
appropriately to the people and situations.

nn influence




commit and

The Bottom Line: Commit and Deliver

Clients often ask me for a shortcut to build credibility. I have yet to find
one. There is, however, one important practice that accelerates the cred-
ibility-building process. That practice is to find opportunities to commit
and deliver something of value to someone else. This happens in one of
two ways. One is when someone asks you for something directly—help
in tracking down some statistics, handling a customer issue, or updating
the team. The second is more strategic. In thinking about an individual or
organization with whom you need to build credibility—such as a colleague,
a new manager, or a business partner in another organization—you proac-
tively find something of value to commit and deliver to that individual. For
example, imagine you are working with another department to implement
a new software package. Even though you meet biweekly with one man-
ager, he mentions that he is frequently asked by his department head for
a weekly update. You let him know that you want to help him, then meet
offline to spec out what he needs, and create a spreadsheet that can be rou-
tinely updated. You found something of value, you committed, and then
you delivered.

Why Is it Important to Commit?

I have worked with many clients who feel that doing a good job is who
they are, what they do, and what is expected. Is there really a need to
commit in some public way, and isn’t this just some sort of psychological
trick? Yes, absolutely, and no, not at all. To commit is to make a promise
about what you will do. It is your word, plain and simple. It is clean,
decisive. First the commitment, then the delivery. To commit and deliver
is not about capability, bandwidth, or priority. It is a choice for how you
do business. It is the demonstration of both your word and your actions,
and this is what others value and remember about you.
What if you can’t commit and deliver? Say so. Here is where the power
of active listening and emotional connection also pay dividends. Let the
other party know that you understand the request or issue (active listen-
ing), and that you acknowledge the importance or emotion behind it
(emotional connection). Then state what you can and cannot do. Level-
ing with others is important. They may not like it, but they know that
you’ve listened and given consideration to their request.

Barriers to Building Credibility

Moving from expertise to credibility is more about shifting gears than it
is about trying to go faster, to accomplish more, or to be smarter. Some
people, however, if left to their own instincts, face one of several barriers
to building a base of credibility.

Barrier #1: The Lure of Technical Depth

Not everyone understands or appreciates the need to build a base of

credibility and to connect with others. Many technical experts are high
achievers, motivated by high standards and a need to get the job done
right. From a motivational perspective, technical depth is a tremendous
lure. It fuels the need for achievement. However, going for technical depth
becomes problematic when an individual assumes that increasing exper-
tise simultaneously increases credibility. The assumption that “knowing
more is worth more” misses the point about how credibility is derived. It

is not about how much you know or do that makes you credible. It is the
value that others ascribe to what you know and do that moves the credi-
bility meter.

Barrier #2: Smart, Arrogant, and Clueless

Can you think of someone you

know who is technically bril- A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
liant but clueless when it comes So is a lot.
to people? Problems arise, how- Albert Einstein
ever, when an individual who is
technically competent makes assumptions about how important it is to
be smart. When a person’s motivation is to be right in every discussion,
prepare for arrogance. When someone thinks he or she knows more and
that makes him or her smarter, prepare for condescension and sarcasm.
That can be damaging, dare I say, career limiting, when some of the less
smart individuals on the other side of the discussion happen to be your
senior managers.

Barrier #3: Speaking Up as “Kissing Up”

There are those who think that technical competence and doing a good
job should speak for itself. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. To
add a slight twist to an old adage, it’s not what you know, it’s who you
know and how they attribute value to what you know that makes you
credible. For some, this smacks of self-promotion. They feel that the
whole idea of influence is political, dirty, a waste of time, and makes you
nothing more than “a person who tries to get the approval of someone
in authority by saying and doing helpful and friendly things that are not
Speaking up about your knowledge or track record of success does not
mean you have to “kiss up.” Objectively discussing your accomplishments
and how they have impacted others demonstrates self-confidence, pride,
and even passion for your work. So the issue is not that a good job should
speak for itself. The issue is that you want others to know that you appre-
ciate what they need and value, and that you are or have been actively
working to that end.

Barrier #4: Too Much Expertise, Not Enough Credibility

The Peter Principle 3.0

Technical expertise without credibility—native intelligence without

emotional intelligence—only means that a person is smart, maybe even
capable, but not necessarily valued. Where some people top out in their
careers is at the point where they have demonstrated expertise but fail to
launch in terms of credibility and relationship building.
This is variation of the Peter Principle first described in 1969 by Lau-
rence Peter. Peter contends that people are promoted to their level of
incompetence. Peter puts it another way: “the cream rises until it sours.”38
This suggests that something other than technical competence plays a
role in successful career advancement. Daniel Goleman expresses a similar
view. His variation of the Peter Principle: “too much college, too little
As a corollary to the Peter Principle, a McClelland interpretation
could be that people are promoted to a level where they no longer
are capable of effectively influencing others. The achievement motive is
the motive for doing good work. If people are promoted because they
are the best based upon their achievements, eventually they reach a level
in the organization that requires a different skill set, one based on the
power motive. That skill set is influence, which we know is based on
credibility, EI, and the ability to build relationships. Where technical
experts get into trouble is when the achievement is at full throttle and
influence is viewed as nothing more than drag. If you want to avoid
advancing your career to the point of where you are incompetent, you
may need to rethink your educational strategy: Say good-bye to college
and hello to kindergarten.

A Subject Matter Expert, or Not a Subject Matter

Expert, When Is the Question
Expertise is critical to success in any role, particularly in starting out in
a career. For some people in roles, professions, or organizations that are
technically based, the career path they desire is one of pursuing in-depth

technical knowledge and experience. A point along this path is the desig-
nation and status of subject matter expert (SME). In professions such as
information technology or engineering, the concept of an SME is closely
associated with technical mastery or proficiency. Some professions might
require tests, licenses, or certifications to achieve an SME status. Other
organizations tag the designation of SME to a particular job level or posi-
tion, such as a principal engineer. Professions such as medicine or law
may not use the SME designation, but they apply a similar concept as a
standard for specialization.
When is the point at which a person is considered an SME, and
how much weight does technical expertise alone play in achieving that
status? While it appears that the status as SME represents a standard of
knowledge, proficiency, and experience, the need to bring value to oth-
ers suggests the rites of passage for an SME status is actually through the
credibility stage. It does not terminate with technical mastery.
In The Extraordinary Leader, Zenger and Folkman describe a link
between interpersonal relationships and technical competence.40 The
authors cite groundbreaking research conducted at Bell Labs by Rob-
ert Kelley, the researcher who studied hundreds of scientists described
as experts in their field.41 They discovered the scientists who were most
successful, were not the most knowledgeable, or had the highest IQs:
“[What differentiated] these stars were that they performed their work
differently. They developed strong networks within the organization and
work with others in a totally different manner than the ‘nonstars’.”42 The
study also identified other interpersonal skills such as “helping colleagues
solve problems and complete tasks, giving others credit, wanting to hear
others’ ideas, and working quietly without fanfare.”43 Furthermore, Kelley
describes how the superstars embraced the need to tailor communication
to the audience, confident in their knowledge without having to dazzle
others with their brilliance. While Kelley did not call these individuals
SMEs, he shed light on the relationship of technical competence and per-
sonal credibility in achieving recognition as experts.44 The bottom line is
that being considered an expert requires more than expertise. Even though
some people may be called SMEs, their success is based on credibility-re-
lated competencies in addition to their knowledge and experience.

Like Expertise, Credibility Is Not an End-State

Relationship management, character and moral courage, trust, commu-
nication, and influence are essential competencies in the second stage of
leadership development, the stage of credibility. Since credibility is in the
eye of the beholder, it must be earned. The value attributed to you is
based not just on what you know, but how you work with others. It is a
personal shift in thinking, perspective, and behavior from the what to the
who. For some, this is a major shift. It requires a different way of thinking
about yourself and how you define success. It’s not that expertise is unim-
portant, it’s that another skill set is required.
Credibility requires two types of intelligence, intellectual and emo-
tional. Credibility is built through a series of interactions that begin
with a promise and end with delivering something of value to others,
over and over and over again. While there is no formula per se, I sub-
mit if it takes x time to build credibility, it takes 0.01 x of that time to
destroy it. Credibility is not a given. It is not an end-state. It must be
If moving into the credibility stage requires a shift, then moving into
the next stage, alignment and execution, requires a leap.

Chapter Summary

Mentoré leadership stage comparisons

Expertise stage Credibility stage

What Who
Track record Image & reputation
Knowledge & experience Communication & influence
Depth Breadth
Student of knowledge Student of people
Native intelligence Emotional intelligence
How smart you are How you deliver value to
others in the organization
Knowing your subject matter Knowing your audience

Taking Stock

• The leadership stage of credibility represents a shift from

competence and expertise to understanding people and
building relationships.
• Daniel Goleman gives us the concept of EI to describe the
competencies, skills, and behaviors needed to build personal
connections and develop relationships that are critical to
successful job performance, especially for leadership positions.
• Character and moral courage define how you do business with
others. It’s your personal brand and the image you project
based on what’s important to you and how you act and
interact with others. Integrity, character, and moral courage
enable you to “do the right thing.”
• Building trust and credibility begin with creating a track
record of success. The tipping point comes when you apply
your knowledge and experience to others, to add value and
help them succeed, solve their problems, and meet their
• Credibility is based on perception. The issue is not if other
people get you, it’s if you get other people. Understanding
what’s important to others is the starting point for building
rapport, empathy, and effective relationships. If getting smart
is the goal in the expertise stage, than getting smart about
people is the goal in the credibility stage.
• Repeat this mantra to yourself: “Credibility is not about me,
it’s not about how smart I am, it’s about the other person.
Credibility is not about me . . .”
• Credibility is linked to follow-through, visibility, and
communication. While there’s no short cut for building
credibility, your ability to commit and deliver on a
continuous basis drives the process. Also, you need to be
deliberately visible and accessible to the right people. Think
“CBWA”—credibility by walking around. And, you need to
tailor your communication to the individual or groups with
whom you’re involved.

• The conversation is the crucible in which credibility’s work

is accomplished. If you want to excel at one communication
skill and one skill only, pick listening. Active listening uses the
FLÉR principle: focus, listen, éngage, restate.
• Effective influence is based on trust and credibility.
Influencing, what Pink calls moving, is currently what people
at work (at least in the United States) engage in 40 percent
of their day. That number is very likely on the rise. To a great
extent, the elements of effective leadership are rooted in
credibility, influence, and their associated skill sets. This one is
not going away.
• The unique role of an SME, a subject matter expert, is not
accomplished by simply building a base of expertise. It also
requires building credibility, the skill set associated with the
way in which you build relationships and use EI.
• Building a base of leadership, whether it’s for a formal
management position or just as likely a leadership position
without formal authority, requires two critical skill sets. One
is about getting smart. It’s not about getting the right answer
or performing at a certain level, it’s about the process you take
to get there—your ability to take initiative, engage the whole
brain, and deliver results. The other skill set acknowledges
that the right answers are only as good as your ability to
understand the people with whom you interact and engage in
the give and take of effective communication and influence.
Expertise without credibility makes you smart. Expertise with
credibility makes you smarter.
• Sarah Richman is back for more advice. What will you tell her
about the need to build credibility, and how will you help her
in the process?

Building Credibility and Emotional Intelligence

Ideas and Activities

1. Become a student of people. In particular, in meetings watch how

people react in certain situations. Without passing judgment, why

do you think they did what they did? If it is someone you know, you
may ask them after the meeting to tell you more about what they
were thinking at that particular time.
2. Volunteer or be prepared to take part in resolving a problem or emo-
tional situation with an internal or external customer.
3. If you are a new manager of a team or project with people
with wide differences in experience and diverse backgrounds, think
about meeting one-on-one to better understand each person’s perspec-
tive. Have three to four good open-ended questions for discussion,
such as what challenges do they see, or what’s been their experience
and insight in working through a particular type of project.
4. When you are involved in selling your ideas or getting commitment
on a particular initiative, do your homework. Know who are the
decision makers and get their perspective in one-on-one meetings or
interactions in advance of the decision.
5. Build your own networks. Schedule at least an hour a week for sit-
ting down with one or two people you need to know to expand your
personal network inside or outside your organization. Dealing with
bureaucracy at work? Build your own networks to help you get the
answers and achieve results that you need.
6. Joining professional organizations is a great networking opportunity.
Presenting at a conference where you are a member is even better.
Joining a committee or volunteering for a leadership position is the
7. Ask a trusted colleague or your manager to give you feedback
about your nonverbal communication, tone of voice, and body
language during a key meeting. Particularly, if you’ve received
feedback in the past that you come across as disengaged or emo-
tional, you want to understand exactly what you do and how oth-
ers perceive it.
8. When you find yourself getting upset or directly dealing with
someone who you think is troublesome, make sure you create some
emotional distance for yourself. Pause and think before you speak.
Ask the other person to “tell you more” or restate what the person
said as a way to calm the situation and yourself. Stay engaged but
stay neutral. Know your hot buttons and what hooks you; be pre-

pared when you think you can’t resist the bait. Losing your cool is
not cool.
9. Pick one conversation a day to practice listening. Imagine that some-
one has a movie camera filming you at the time. Think about what
you look like and sound like in that situation.

Stage Three: Alignment and


From Personal Competence to Organizational Capacity

Life in the Matrix

“Iacta Alea Est”

There Julius Caesar stood on the banks of the Rubicon River, January
10, 49 bc. In defiance of the ruler Pompeii, he knows that returning from
Gaul with his army and crossing the Rubicon onto Italian soil amounts
to treason. If he is to avoid a civil war, he must lay down his command,
and surrender his troops and weapons. But if he and his troops cross the
narrow bridge, there is no turning back. They will have entered Roman
territory in a state of war. With a burst of energy Caesar declares, “Iacta
alea est”—“The die is cast.” He and his troops march onward to Rome, and
as they say, the rest is ancient Roman history.1
So there you stand at the bridge between credibility and alignment
and execution. What got you to this point is a track record of success,
a combination of your “technical chops,” your ability to build relation-
ships, and most importantly, your ability to deliver quality work that is
valued by others.
Ahead of you is this vast territory known as “the business.” Unlike
Pompeii, the business implores you to cross the bridge, to help meet a
bigger challenge, one where success is not measured by your personal
accomplishment, but by your ability to impact the larger organization.
The business presents you with different opportunities, but they all share
one thing in common—the need to achieve results through others. Some
of these opportunities are more traditional, such as people manager roles.


Alignment and execution stage

Alignment and execution is working through others to maximize
performance and deliver results.

Alignment and execution competencies

Shapes the culture and political landscape: shapes a culture based on
mutual respect, trust, and accountability
Builds an adaptive organization: creates a high-performance organiza-
tion that gets results by continually aligning strategy, roles, skill sets, and
leadership responsibilities
Develops talent: takes pride in role as coach and teacher who get the most
out of individuals and teams
Leads by example: models the leadership behaviors and values expected of

Others are new and different, like managing projects or leading ad hoc
teams, heading up cross-functional implementation projects, or joining
task forces. Such is life in the matrix. There is a greater emphasis on col-
laboration, to work with multiple reporting relationships across func-
tional boundaries. Leading in these circumstances is often spontaneous
and always dynamic. Potentially, every interaction and communication
with people up, down, and across the organization is leadership-related,
where your ability to influence others to the point they take decisive and
responsible action is put to the test.
Personal competence got you to this point. Moving forward, personal
competence alone is not going to be enough to maximize your impact.

The business needs you to achieve in a dif-

ferent way for a different purpose. And that capacity
purpose is to build organizational capacity.
Moving into the stage of alignment
and execution is not as easy as it appears.
Individuals who have the knowledge, the Personal
track record, and the organizational respect
appear ready to move beyond individual
contributor roles into higher-level posi-
tions. For some, however, the transition is difficult. When given these
opportunities to manage others, the momentum created by success as an
individual contributor propels them to become a super individual con-
tributor, an uber-achiever rather than delegate to others. It’s what a client
described to me as “adding more pluses,” doing more because there’s more
to do instead of overseeing or handing-off work. However, the problem
here is not just what they need to add or change. It’s what they have to
give up.

Give it Up, Step Up, Align, and Execute

Moving into alignment and execution answers the question how—How
do we achieve results? This stage of development requires a uniquely differ-
ent way of thinking and operating that changes where and how you spend
your time. My experience in working with clients who have strong indi-
vidual contributor backgrounds is that, left to their own instincts, they
equate leading with having all the answers. This is a double whammy.
First, thinking you need to have all the answers can lead to wanting—and
getting—all the questions. Here is the scenario. People need answers.
They form a line outside your door. There is a sign that says, “Take a
number, and when I call it, be prepared to enter with your question.” The
question enters, and the answer exits. New questions will line up tomor-
row. This process may confirm your importance, but it doesn’t build orga-
nizational capacity. Second, as an uber-achiever, you create little impetus
for others to build their personal competence if they can come to you to
answer their questions. Have you trained them or have they trained you?
Additionally, if people are expected to come to you for the answer, how

motivating is that for those who want exciting and meaningful work,
which is just about everyone?
To succeed in this stage, you have to give up thinking that your value
is measured only by the depth of your expertise. Having answers is good;
having all the answers, not so good. It may feel like you are losing ground
if you do not continue to demonstrate your expertise, but you have a
different role now. To expand your impact on the organization, the moti-
vation you possess to get smarter and do great work should be directed at
making others successful through the quality, delivery, and execution of
their work. That is the job.
Some need to hold on tight, because you are about to give up con-
trol, control to do the job and to do it the way they would do it. As
we will see later in the discussion of leadership style, this is a big strug-
gle for high achievers. What has driven personal success are hands-on,
high-quality results, but now your responsibility is to ensure that oth-
ers execute successfully. Staying engaged is critical, but putting your
hands on anything but a portion of the process is experienced by others
as micromanagement. And now you are back to the “take a number”
environment. What you give up is the need to be the best student even
after you achieved “best student” status. What you need to achieve is

New Leader Activity

As a new leader, one of the biggest challenges is getting a handle of
what you need to do more of, and what you need to do less of. This
thought process never goes away.

In preparation for next week:

List one activity you need to do less of. Create a goal for what you will
do by when.

List one activity you need to do more of. Create a goal.

Repeat this as part of your weekly scheduling for the next 12 weeks.
At the end of that time period, take a close look at what you’ve accom-
plished. Review these observations with your manager and ask for

greater impact and influence on the organization. You have crossed

the Rubicon. You have entered the matrix. Now your success and the
organization’s success are one and the same—increasing organizational
One of the most common concerns I get from clients today is that
they need their leaders to step up and operate at a higher level. I think
they think I know what that means, but I am never certain unless I ask.
For the purposes of leadership development, I define stepping up and
operating at a higher level as running the business, specifically, your
piece of the business. Running the business is different from doing your
job. It is literally a step up, not simply more of the same activity. In the
alignment and execution stage, stepping up is understanding how things
work and where you need to focus to have a favorable impact on the

The Two Perspectives of Alignment and Execution

His name is Garrett Brown. He may not be a household name, but if
you saw Rocky Balboa run up the stairs at the Philadelphia Art Museum,
you can thank Mr. Brown for his invention of the Steadicam. But that is
not all. With 50 patents under his belt, Mr. Brown created the Skycam,
that great camera on wires that gives us the ability to see on-the-field
action. The Skycam is now a staple for Sunday viewing of National Foot-
ball League games. To see what New England quarterback Tom Brady
sees with a little more height but from the same angle is stunning. We
break from the huddle and go to the line of scrimmage. We look out over
the defense, see the need for an adjustment, call an audible, and then
execute the play. Sitting at home, watching from the safety of a flat screen
television, we see 300-pound linemen engaged in hand-to-hand combat
and 250-pound linebackers launched as human missiles as Brady finds
his target for a first down. Thank you, Garret Brown, for allowing us to
share an up close and personal Tom Brady experience from the comfort
of our living room.2
This “on-the-field view” is one of two important perspectives needed
in this stage of leadership development. This view focuses on execution.
The minute the football is snapped each person has a job to do, to execute

his or her assignments successfully. Then back to the huddle, call a new
play, and execute again.
In addition, there is a coach who sits up in the press box. From this
angle the coach has a higher, broader perspective that enables him to
see patterns, identify strengths and weaknesses, and suggest changes. The
“press box view” focuses on alignment, the extent to which all the parts
work together to achieve successful execution. Afterward, as preparation
for next week’s game, the coaches and team study game films, digest
observations, adjust the plays, and practice accordingly. Moving forward,
both perspectives, “on-the-field” and “from the press box,” are needed.

Alignment and Execution as Action Verbs

Alignment and execution is a unique blend of studying performance from
different angles and focusing on how to create the conditions for success-
ful outcomes. The competencies themselves represent four distinct areas
for action:

1. Shapes the cultural and political landscape

2. Builds an adaptive organization
3. Develops talent
4. Leads by example

Shapes the Landscape

Like individual performance, organizational performance is defined by

two critical dimensions: relationships, which translate into culture, and
performance, which translates into operational efficiency for the business.

The Cultural-Relationship Dimension of the Landscape

Generally speaking, organizational effectiveness is dependent on the lead-

er’s ability to create the conditions for success within a defined context.
This context is often referred to as the organizational culture. One of
the first researchers in the field is Edward Schein, who defines culture
formally as “a pattern of shared basic assumptions that a group learned as

it solved its problems of external adaptation and integration . …”3 Like

Schein, Bolman and Deal were among the first to examine organizational
culture, which they define simply “as the way we do things around here.”4
What Bolman and Deal contribute to the study of leadership is an under-
standing for the uniqueness of culture and the extent to which it shapes
behavior. In particular, they ask three important questions:

• Are cultures definable entities?

• Do cultures contribute to measurable outcomes?
• To what extent does leadership play a role in shaping the

Culture as a Definable Entity

At one level, culture is impressionistic; it answers the questions,

“What’s it like to work here?” It’s not unusual for someone walking
into an organization for the first time to say they instantaneously get
a “feel” for the place. Like the study of anthropology, the culture of an
organization is the environment in which distinct values, beliefs, cus-
toms, rituals, and symbols mesh over time. Culture socializes people to
the organization. Culture and acceptable behavior are self-reinforcing:
They define each other. Culture is manifested in how people treat and
engage with each other. If you want to “see” culture, look for three R’s:
what gets recognized, rewarded, and reinforced. Yes, cultures are defin-
able entities.

The Culture—Outcomes—Leadership Connection

The relationship of culture, outcomes, and leadership is the key element

in the seminal work of Jim Collins and team, Good to Great.6 Collins
identifies six specific elements of the culture and how they contribute to
successful outcomes in good to great organizations:

1. The right type of leadership. Collins describes Level 5 leadership,

a unique type of leadership that is a mix of personal humility and
professional will.

2. The right team. The Collins summation that is widely quoted here is
to “get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and
the right people in the right seats—and then they figured out where
to drive it.”7 First who, then what.
3. A willingness to confront the brutal facts. Collins coins the concept
of the “Stockdale paradox,” named for the former prisoner of war
who confronted the brutal facts of imprisonment but never lost faith
that he would one day be freed.
4. The use of a simplified guiding principle that comes from a deep
understanding of what you’re best at, what drives your economic
engine, and what you are deeply passionate about. Collins describes
this as the “hedgehog concept.”
5. A culture of discipline. Collins states, “All companies have a culture,
some companies have discipline, but few companies have a culture
of discipline . . . . When you combine a culture of discipline with
an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great
6. Technology accelerators. Technology is used not to ignite transfor-
mation, but to accelerate it.

Collins’s analysis substantiates that leadership does impact culture, and

that the cultural distinctions represented by good to great companies pro-
duce measurable, bottom-line results.9

Understanding the Culture and Political Landscape

The processes of decision making, communication, and problem resolu-

tion and prioritization have a significant impact on the culture and polit-
ical landscape. Together they create a unique quality for how business is
conducted both inside and outside the organization.

Decision Making

There are two components of decision making: the process for making
decisions and the people who make them. Both inform the notion of
“how we do things around here.”

Consider the different options for making decisions:

• Top down through executive fiat

• Highly bureaucratic, where several sign-offs are needed before
the decision is made
• Rationalized process in which a team frames the issue, collects
data, considers options and trade-offs, and then makes an
informed decision
• Highly participative or consensus building
• Is there a decision-making process at all?

Each option has cultural implications. Top-down decision making rein-

forces compliance. Bureaucratic decision making means dealing with red
tape and time delays. A highly rationalized approach creates discipline.
Being highly participative creates buy in, but it also can be time consum-
ing. When there is no decision-making process, the situation is rudder-
less, where quasi- and non-decisions are “made” over and over again.
Then there are the decision makers. Their motivation, values, style,
and most importantly, their behavior, set a political tone. The way in
which they relate to others and make themselves available speaks volumes.
In any given situation, these are the individuals whom you may need
to influence to get buy in and commitment. How decision makers take
counsel and invite participation set in motion certain patterns of behavior
that contribute to what the culture looks like.


There are two aspects of communication that impact an organization’s

culture. One is the extent to which information is shared. When infor-
mation is closely held, it creates a more political environment. Informa-
tion is currency. The more someone has it, the more power they wield,
and the more charged is the political climate. On the other hand, when
information is shared, there’s a greater sense of trust, transparency, and
The other important aspect is how communication is structured.
Bossidy and Charan describe these structures as “social operating mech-

anisms” that are used “anywhere that dialogue takes place.” They empha-
size that it is through these mechanisms that “beliefs and behaviors are
practiced consistently and relentlessly.”10
Types of communication structures and the questions that arise are:

• town hall, small group, and one-on-one meetings. Is the

objective of these meetings clear? Are there agendas, or do
people just wing it?
• voicemail and e-mail. These are good for conveying
information but problematic for resolving problems. What is
the purpose for each?
• collaboration rooms and hallway chit-chat. Is the
communication planned or spontaneous?
• remote meetings. How do you maintain the right level of
communication with colleagues whom you don’t “see” on a
routine basis, if ever?
• in-person communication. It still exists. How is it optimized?

Problem Solving and Prioritization

At a surface level, problem solving and prioritization may not look like
they shape the culture, that is, until you look deeper. Like communica-
tion, problem solving runs the gamut. It happens on the fly, in routine
meetings, or more methodically through a process for escalation. We
know that problem solving is a fact of organizational life. It’s how orga-
nizations approach problem solving—as reactive, anticipatory, or some-
thing in between—that defines the culture.
The same goes for prioritization. Consider these events ripped from
today’s business headlines: “Shipments delayed,” “Customer changes
mind,” “The IT team defection continues,” and “Winter storm closes
down the East Coast.” How an organization prioritizes and reprioritizes
work is a process within the culture. What does this process look like? How
do people react? How are the changes communicated? The extent to which
an organization flexes and adapts, takes change in stride without losing
momentum and focus, defines an important part of “what it’s like to work

Culture and Its Impact on Climate

The culture of an organization also impacts the climate. Climate rep-

resents how people perceive the organization. In research associated with
McClelland’s concept of motivation, Spreier et al. describe six factors that
contribute to workforce climate:11

1. Flexibility
Flexibility is a measure of how employees perceive rules and policies.
Are they dealing with red tape or helpful guidelines? To what extent
are new ideas encouraged and accepted?
2. Responsibility
Responsibility is critical because it defines personal scope. In one
respect, responsibility defines personal autonomy, the latitude that
someone has to perform his or her job. In another respect, respon-
sibility defines an expectation for a deliverable, task, or process an
individual is expected to perform.
3. Standards
Standards are a set of clearly defined expectations that define a
desired level of performance. Standards promote excellence when

Characterizing Your Organization’s Culture

As a leader of a team, function, or organization, what are five adjectives
that you think best describe the culture?
For a team activity, ask each team member to do the same. Be pre-
pared to discuss the responses in an open and nonjudgmental forum.
Think about similarities and differences in responses. How do these
line up with your descriptions? What’s the impact of these perceptions
on the team’s performance? Determine what three actions are needed
moving forward.
For the trifecta, go to five people outside the organization whose per-
spectives you value. Ask them to describe what it’s like to work with your
group by using descriptive adjectives. How well do these impressions
line up with your views and those of the team? What are the implica-
tions of these comparisons? What next steps are needed?

they are set at a high but attainable level. Standards represent what
individuals are expected to accomplish to meet the organizational
4. Clarity
Clarity is organizational oxygen. It energizes. Clarity defines bound-
aries and delineates responsibilities. It connects individual respon-
sibilities with organizational goals. Clarity creates expectations. It
defines hand-offs and information requirements.
Lack of clarity is carbon monoxide. It kills. Sometimes the lack
of clarity overwhelms and grinds organizations to a halt. More often,
it is insidious. When decisions aren’t made, objectives and outcomes
aren’t defined, or responsibilities aren’t clear, there’s activity, but not
efficient and effective execution. According to Spreier, in study after
study, clarity is the one dimension of climate that has the strong-
est link to productivity.12 Stated another way, clarity creates effective
organizational alignment, which in turn creates more effective execu-
5. Rewards
While compensation and formal recognition are important, the type
of reward that is most desired is ongoing, objective feedback and
recognition for a job well done.
6. Team commitment
When people are engaged, team commitment is high. People take
pride in their work and are appreciated for their accomplishments.
Commitment and engagement are a measure of the extent to which
the other climate dimensions mesh together effectively.

Changing the Culture

Today it is popular to describe the need for changing the culture. Cul-
ture is often characterized in broad strokes, such as a customer-focused
culture, or a culture of accountability or innovation. The simplification
serves a purpose, which is to articulate a guiding principle about what
is important. For cultural change to succeed, however, what’s important
or desired must be defined in behavioral terms. Changing the culture,
particularly in the early stages, is more about changing behavior than

it is changing the way people think. It’s also important to align tasks,
responsibilities, and processes to the outcomes the culture is intended to
produce. We know that simply espousing what values are important does
not mean that people will demonstrate them. Saying that teamwork is
important only changes the culture if people actually experience effective
teamwork and treat each other as team members. Cultural change is not
easy, especially as economic conditions change and organizations scram-
ble to adjust. As we’ll soon discover, leading change of any magnitude,
which includes a change in culture, requires a mindful, strategic process.

The Business-Operational Dimension of the Landscape

The High-Performance Organization

From the cultural-relationship dimension we move to the second dimen-

sion of organizational performance, which is business-operational. One
method for analyzing business and operational alignment is the use of a
high-performance organizational model. The concept of the high-perfor-
mance organization is based on the principles of systems thinking. Sys-
tems thinking has its roots in the field of systems dynamics that began
with MIT professor Jay Forrester in the mid-1950s.13 Forrester applied
the concepts used in engineering to explain the dynamics that exist inside
social systems. The advantage of systems thinking is that it’s possible to
understand complex problems in terms of dynamics and interdependen-
cies. Peter Senge, another expert in this arena, emphasizes that systems
thinking, not simply cause–effect analysis, is needed to understand the
impact of actions, patterns of behavior, and intended or unintended con-
sequences on overall performance.14 The value of systems thinking is that
it looks at multiple relationships with the understanding that a change
in one element impacts changes to other elements, and subsequently
changes the overall performance of the system itself.
Using the high-performance organization model starts with drawing
a boundary to define the system. Where the boundary is drawn is import-
ant. This could be at the team, function, department, or business level.
The boundary delineates what is on the inside and within the control of
the system, and what is external or exogenous, outside the control of the
system but can impact system performance. From a business perspective,

for example, external variables could include a new competitive threat,

the loss of a major customer, new changes in the law, or a sudden change
in the economy. These external forces are highly dynamic. While none
falls within the business, they can impact how the business as a system
performs. To accommodate the impact of these forces a system may need
to realign or make major adjustments.

The high performance organization


Alignment skills Results

Roles and

The Four Elements of the High-Performance Organization

1. Leadership
The element of leadership refers to the team of individuals accounta-
ble for long-term strategic direction, midterm alignment, and short-
term execution. Operationally, leadership is the gyroscope needed to
keep the organization on track. This requires simultaneously looking
in two directions:

• Outside the system, to constantly monitor the exogenous

factors and their potential impact on the organization
• Inside, to monitor quality and performance, to realign and
adjust as required

2. Organization
There are three critical components within the organizational e­ lement:
strategy, process, and structure. Strategy is the high-level directional
plan, the filter through which critical decisions must pass. Strategy

determines what the organization will and will not do. Second are the
critical business processes that are based on the strategy. The leadership
team has the accountability to see that these processes run smoothly,
to make improvements, or to reconfigure them when needed.
The third component is structure. In theory, structure is built upon
critical business processes (as opposed to the other way around) to
ensure process continuity across roles and functions. Other key con-
siderations for organizational structure are

• work specialization, the degree to which activities are

subdivided into separate jobs;
• departmentalization, how jobs are grouped;
• chain of command, the structure of reporting relationships;
• span of control, the number of individuals a leader can
effectively direct;
• centralization or recentralization, the place where decision-
making authority resides;
• formalization, the extent to which employees need prescribed
policies and procedures.15
Today, more complex structures like matrix organizations and dual
reporting relationships reflect the need for speed and agility. The
benefit is one of improved cycle time through better hand-offs, bet-
ter communication, and quicker response time.

3. Jobs
With strategy, process, and structure in place, the next element is to
carve out roles and responsibilities. The use of the job wheel described
in Chapter 2 is one method to determine responsibilities first, by
looking at the position, and then identifying key interfaces (people or
departments) and critical tasks that are associated with each.
Another method is the use of RACI charts, a technique widely used
in the field of project management.16 RACI charts use processes and
the associated steps to make one of four assignments:

• R = responsible. Who does the step?

• A = accountable. Who is accountable for the outcome, the
completion of the step?

• C = consulted. Who needs to be consulted in the execution of

this step, meaning whose input is needed?
• I = informed. As part of the communication process, who needs
to be informed that this particular step is completed?

Both the job wheel and RACI charts are appropriate tools to help
with issues about roles and responsibilities. One of the biggest issues I
experience in working with clients is the ongoing need for job clarity.
The need exists at

• the macrolevel: generally, what am I responsible for, what does

success look like, and how will I be measured?
• the microlevel: in a particular initiative, who is responsible for
what in this situation?

Another point of con-

Accountability designates ownership fusion is the difference
for the outcome. When an individual is between responsibility
accountable, he owns the outcome whether and accountability. I find
it is through direct hands-on activity or that these are often used
working through others. interchangeably when,
instead, they should make
clear differentiations. Responsibility refers to the specific duties an
individual is expected to perform. Accountability designates owner-
ship for the outcome. When an individual is accountable, he owns the
outcome whether it is through direct hands-on activity or working
through others.
As I mentioned earlier, the lack of clarity, particularly job clar-
ity, is like carbon monoxide—you can’t see it or smell it, and by the
time it takes hold, it’s too late. More often what the lack of clarity
creates is a loss in productivity mixed with confusion and frustration,
opportunity costs that can’t be recouped.

4. People
Work is accomplished through people, not processes, equipment, or
technology. From an organizational effectiveness perspective, what’s
important is to determine if people have the right skills and compe-
tencies to perform their jobs effectively. One method for identifying

and assessing these is the job standards process discussed in Chap-

ter 2. By first identifying duties and tasks, it’s possible to define the
technical or content-related skills and the critical competencies and
behaviors needed for outstanding performance. In turn, the organi-
zation uses the skills and behaviors as a blueprint to select, assess, and
develop employees.

The Relationship of Alignment to Effective Execution

The high-performance model is a framework for diagnosing organiza-

tional alignment. At a basic level, the model identifies how the elements
align with each other. For example:

• How well do roles align with the business processes?

• Are responsibilities and accountabilities assigned for each of the
key process steps?
• What is the extent to which people in specific roles have the right
skill sets?
• How smooth are hand-offs and the information flow across

At a higher level, the model detects how the overall system accommodates
to a major change from either external or internal forces. For example,
what happens to the system, the business enterprise, when there is a major
economic downturn like the one we saw in 2008? The external change
produces a change in strategy, which impacts the structure of the organiza-
tion, which changes the nature of certain jobs, which in turn could require
different skill sets. In this case, the external driver sets in motion a series of
internal actions and reactions, sometimes planned, sometimes unintended.
Sometimes the changes begin internally, such as the implementation of a
new accounting system. A change in the process produces a change in how
jobs are structured, which ultimately could improve productivity, reduce
costs, and increase margins. Consider another example, like the promotion
of a new division head. She comes to the job with a different strategic vision
for the organization, signaling structural changes and putting “different
people on the bus,” all intended to move the business into new territory.

The role of the leader in alignment and execution requires constant

vigilance of both relationship-cultural and business-operational issues.
This takes an on-the-field view to assess execution. It also takes a press
box view to understand how the components are aligned and the extent
to which adjustments are necessary to improve execution. Now comes
the hard part. How do you maintain alignment with today’s rate of

Alignment Assessment

As either a team leader or team member, think of two recent team

situations: one where the team performed well and met the desired
outcomes; one where the team execution was below par and outcomes
were not reached as intended. Use the high-performance model to
analyze how the elements were aligned in the first case, and what ele-
ments were misaligned or missing in the second case. Think about
how you can engage the team in these debriefs and how to create and
implement recommendations arising from each situation.

Builds an Adaptive Organization

I can remember in the early
Change is hard because people overes-
1990s when my business part-
timate the value of what they have-and
ners and I began to see a grow-
underestimate the value of what they may
ing request from our clients to
gain by giving that up.
deal with the topic of “change
Belasco and Stayer
management.” The concept was
more than a decade old by that
time.17 To a great extent it was the growth in technology that drove the
need for organizations to innovate and change. The big six accounting
firms at the time and management gurus such as Gary Hamel branded the
concepts of change management and re-engineering to address the needs
organizations had to deal with, particularly those related to technology.18
At the time, change seemed like a wild horse that could be tamed. You
could coral it, work with it, and one day ride off into the sunset. It was as
if change could be captured.

Change as a Constant

If change in the nineties was algebra, today it’s calculus. It is the rate of
change that is making it “uncorallable,” less manageable, and more diffi-
cult to isolate. John Kotter, a noted authority in the field of organizational
change, echoes what is different today. He explains why the concept of
managing change is limited and why we need to focus on leading change:

I am often asked about the differences in “change management”

and “change leadership,” and whether it’s just a matter of seman-
tics. These terms are not interchangeable. This distinction between
the two is actually quite significant. Change management, which
is the term most everyone uses, refers to a set of basic tools or struc-
tures intended to keep any change effort under control. The goal is
often to minimize the distractions and impacts of change. Change
leadership, on the other hand, concerns the driving forces, visions,
and processes that fuel large-scale transformation . . . . Change
leadership is more associated with putting an engine on the whole
process and making it go faster, smarter, more efficiently . . . . It’s
more about urgency. It’s more about masses of people who want
to make something happen. It’s more about big visions. It’s more
about empowering lots and lots of people. Change leadership has
the potential to get things a little bit out of control.19

The Kotter Approach for Leading Change Initiatives

In addition to the concept, Kotter has also developed a process for lead-
ing change. Consider this example. Your business has lost a major client
because of huge mistakes including incorrect orders, missed shipments,
and lack of oversight for the account. You are concerned that other major
customers will also defect because of mounting problems. You have
worked through these concerns with your leadership team, and as part of
a retention strategy, there is a new enterprise software system that has to
be implemented. Without effective leadership, this initiative has all the
early warning signs of failure that disruption, frustration, and resistance
signal. You invoke the words of Gene Kranz, from the film Apollo 13:
“Failure is not an option.”20

Your plan is to use the Kotter model to make sure you and your team
can lead this change effectively. The process consists of eight steps:21

1. Start with a sense of urgency

This step has the intensity of a “burning platform.”22 It’s relatively
easy to get immediate attention when you lose a warehouse to a tsu-
nami. But can you create enduring urgency from the loss of only one
client at this point? You have hard data that show that other custom-
ers are having shipment problems and how seriously it’s impacting
your costs and potentially sales. Change is required, and the soft-
ware, admittedly just one factor, is an important part of the solution.
How do you get mindshare for something that will change, even
disrupt, jobs and routines inside the organization? The rationale for
the change is to “improve customer retention” when the buzz around
the coffee maker is a resounding “we do a pretty darn good job at
customer retention, thank you very much.”
Take another related example. You’re on the board of a nonprofit
organization that is two years into a five-year pledge from a major
donor. How do you convince the board that there are only 1,096
days remaining to find matching funds, and that’s if you count an
extra day for leap year?
As Kotter points out, “A big reason that a true sense of urgency is
rare is that it’s not a natural state of affairs. He has to be created and
recreated.”23 Change begins with leadership that consistently bangs
the drum. In Good by Choice, Collins describes one mechanism lead-
ers use to get people’s attention. He calls it “productive paranoia.”
There’s Steve Ballmer, known as “Dr. Doom,” who succeeded “the
grand master of productive paranoia,” Bill Gates, as the head of at
Microsoft.24 Both were notorious for declaring that “things could be
worse” even in the calmest of times. Effective leaders ignite change
with urgency, continuously articulating why this and why now. With-
out the urgency, customers just walk away; major donors disappear.
2. Build a guiding coalition
In order to take action, a leader needs to create a critical mass of like-
minded individuals. You might think that, as the ranking member of
the organization, you can demand the change. However, you need a

coalition that will create the urgency and lead the process. This step
is crucial.
3. Shape the vision
A vision is literally a picture of what the future looks like. Vision
inspires and transforms. The vision of a successful customer-reten-
tion strategy is a picture of the wall in the front hallway with charts
of record sales figures side by side with floor to ceiling framed letters
from repeat, satisfied customers. For the nonprofit board, the vision
is one of five checks arriving in the same week, each for $100,000
from individuals honoring their yearly pledges.
4. Communicate the vision over and over again
Like any other consultant in the leadership development business, I
tell my clients it is impossible to overcommunicate a change initia-
tive.25 Make no assumptions about what people are thinking. Rein-
forcing the message requires frequent two-way communication, to
open doors for questions, concerns, and ultimately buy-in and com-
5. Empowering others to act on the vision
Removing roadblocks and encouraging new and different ways to
take action is the leader’s job in leading change.
6. Identify quick wins and deliver on them
Quick wins are the actions that make the vision visible and real. The
ability to isolate and take a step in the desired direction is a tangible
progress. Then advertise the victory, celebrate it, and move on to the
next one.
7. Consolidate improvements and stay the course
This is the phase beyond quick wins, where organizational structures,
policies, and systems change, new people are brought in and others
move on, and the need for urgency remains front and center.
8. Institutionalizing new approaches
Psychologists talk about change in terms of assimilation and accom-
modation.26 Assimilation is the process where we take something new
and integrate it into our current way of thinking. Accommodation
requires a new way of thinking since the current thinking cannot
“digest” the change. From an organizational perspective, incremental
changes can generally be assimilated into the current structure and

culture. Major changes, however, require organizations to accom-

modate and institutionalize new approaches, meaning adopting dif-
ferent expectations, behaviors, and ways of doing business.
Like most successful theories in action, the Kotter model looks
simple in description yet requires focus and discipline for implemen-
tation. When all is said and done, successful change occurs when the
organization is supported by the right changes in behavior, and that is
not an overnight process. As Kotter describes, the challenge is overcom-
ing complacency and maintaining a real sense of urgency.27 Perhaps,
there is something more to be learned from the lessons of “Dr. Doom”
and his predecessor, “the grand master of productive paranoia.”

Change as Adaptation and Leadership Style

Another important element in leading change is the leader’s ability to

adapt. In terms of behavior, adaptability is based on two components:
understanding the situation or task, and understanding the people
involved in the situation. In Chapter 2, we examined how these partic-
ular components evolved from the research of Blake and Mouton, and
subsequently Hersey and Blanchard.28 Hersey and Blanchard created
the concept of situational leadership that takes the two elements—the
task itself and the maturity level of the individual(s) involved—to pre-
scribe one of four styles of leadership and when to use them effectively:

• Telling, when someone is new to the situation or when

something needs to happen quickly.
• Selling, when the situation requires both leader direction and
individual buy-in.
• Participating, when the leader and the individual share in the
decision making.
• Delegating, when the individual is highly skilled and
only needs guidance when there’s a change in priority or

Building on the elements of organizational climate, Spreier et al. describe

six leadership styles:30

1. Directive
This is the traditional command and control technique that is very
specific with questions of who, when, and how. This style is used
effectively when there is a need for immediate compliance or work-
ing with new team members to give clear, precise, nonnegotiable
direction. The directive style is less effective when the team is skilled,
where they construe specific instructions as micromanagement.
2. Visionary
This style is also characterized as authoritative. The style is one of
clear direction and an explanation for why a particular course of
action is required. The “visionary” label is appropriate because the
leader describes a future state, where things are headed. This style
emphasizes clarity both in terms of general direction and individual
responsibilities. The “authoritative” label captures something less
than immediate compliance but still conveys that the leader is in
charge and knows where he and the team are headed. This style is
less effective when a routine or known assignment is given to a team
of experienced players.
3. Affiliative
This style embodies the concept of maintaining close, personal rela-
tionships. The style attends to the needs of individuals, which makes
it effective in situations of personal crisis or team turmoil. The affili-
ative style is less effective when an individual or team is not per-
forming to standards, or when clear direction is needed because of a
change in priorities, problems, or issues.
4. Participative
This style is also characterized as democratic because it uses dialogue
to get buy-in and commitment. It is a highly collaborative style
intended to build consensus through shared decision making. This
style works well when a leader has highly skilled players. This style is
less effective when immediate compliance or clarity is required.
5. Pacesetting
To call pacesetting a leadership style is a bit of a stretch because there
is little to no engagement on the part of the leader with an individual
or team. This is like a cross-country race, where everyone lines up at
the starting line, waits for the signal, and everyone, including the

leader, runs to the finish line. This style is effective when a leader
supervises a team of highly skilled people working on automatic
pilot. Members share a sense of high standards and quality work and
need little if any supervision. They can run this cross-country course
in their sleep.
All too often, the pacesetter style is used by a high achiever who
is put in charge of a team or organization. If everyone is running to
goal and doing his or her job, no communication is required. How-
ever, when the leader thinks that standards or expectations are not
met, the negative side of the pacesetter creeps in, which is a tendency
to be coercive, to take over the work, or give it to someone else. The
underlying premise for pacesetting is that people don’t need to be
told what to do and shouldn’t have to be told how to do it. That’s
their job and that’s what they get paid for. But if performance is
inconsistent or doesn’t meet standards, or if priorities and direction
change, then the leader needs to change styles to communicate and
actively engage with the team as opposed to people “getting it” on
their own. When is pacesetting less effective? Most of the time.

6. Coaching
The term “coaching” is often used to describe a broad range of inter-
actions between a leader and a direct report. As a leadership style,
coaching is an ongoing process focused on the employee’s profes-
sional development. It speaks more to the process than any one
particular event. Coaching works best when there is active engage-
ment on the employee’s part. It is a highly interactive, iterative, and
ongoing dialogue. It is less effective when an individual is new to
the position or needs direction to accomplish specific assignments.
Some may think that you “coach” someone when he or she is new,
but if using this terminology, you are probably more “directive” or
“authoritative” in the beginning.
Adaptive leader behavior manifests itself in different styles,
from highly directive and in charge, to collaborative and shared, to
employee directed. One style of leadership does not fit all situations.
Style is a tool for handling change on a routine if not daily basis to
continuously align expectations, people, and outcomes.

Leadership Style Self-Assessment


Reread the description of each leadership style. Then answer these ques-

1. Which style or styles do you most often use? Consider a situation

when that style was most effective. Then think of a time you used that
style and it was not effective. What style might you have used instead?
2. Which style or styles do you use less frequently? In what types of
situation might you use these effectively?
3. Keep in mind that your use of different styles speaks to your ability
to effectively impact individual and team performance regardless of
the situation. Keep a log for the next 2 weeks of the situations in
which you consciously use a particular leadership style and the extent
to which it was effective for the situation.

Develops Talent
The third critical competency in the alignment and execution stage is the
development of talent. As a philosophy, talent development is intended to
get the most out of people by tapping into, developing, and unleashing
individual potential and performance on the organization. While it relates
to the yearly ritual of the performance review, it is much broader. Yearly
appraisals typically focus on today’s necessities and not tomorrow’s require-
ments or opportunities. Talent development goes for the long haul, where
faith in the future and the development of individual capability is rewarded
with ongoing organizational productivity and increased capacity.31
As a strategy, talent development is both high reward and high risk.
The reward is increased organizational competence created through a
highly trained, skilled, and invested workforce. The risk is that trained
talent is in high demand. They could leave the organization. They will.
The reality is that everyone leaves the organization at some point. There
is an upside, however.
Several years ago, I was one of several presenters at a workshop for
CPA’s working in business and industry. One of the other presenters was

the chief financial officer (CFO) of a large telecommunication organi-

zation I had met and worked with on two previous occasions. His topic
was how he transformed the finance and accounting organization into a
customer-focused organization. The transformation took five years. He
described how some people were let go, some new people were hired,
and how everyone participated in a massive training and development
initiative. His vision was not only to improve his organization’s impact on
the business, but to make the business “an employer of choice.” After the
presentation, someone asked the question that I suspect was on the minds
of several people: “What happens if you train them and they leave?” His
answer was immediate, clear, and resolute: “Everyone leaves at some
point. But the good news is there is now a line of people at our door
wanting to come work for the organization.” According to this CFO,
talent development has its risks, but they are outweighed by the rewards.

Leadership Requirements for Talent Development

From a leadership perspective, developing talent has five requirements:

1. Focus on an individual’s strengths with laser-like intensity

2. Lead as a coach and teacher
3. Use deliberate practice to build skills that improve performance
4. Delegate for development
5. Scan the landscape for development opportunities

Laser Focus on Individual Capabilities and Strengths

Going against the grain of common practice at the time, Marcus Buck-
ingham opened a new discussion on the topic of talent development
when he asked, “Should talent development focus on improving a per-
son’s weaknesses or building a person’s strengths?”32 Buckingham asserts
that talent development should be about “developing your talents, cap-
italizing on your strengths and managing around your weaknesses.” He
defines talents as those “naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling,
and behavior.” The combination of talent, knowledge, and skill creates a
strength, defined as “consistent near perfect performance in an activity.”

With the full weight of the Gallup organization and research conducted
with more than two million people at the time of publication, the con-
cept of strengths is mainstream thinking in today’s discussion of talent
How does this approach impact a leader’s responsibilities?

• First, a leader must spend the time with an employee

to identify natural talents and strengths. This requires
observation, focus, and attention. The intent is to identify
not only a person’s individual strengths, but also how they
combine to create unique personal values.34
• Second, a leader has to identify opportunities and methods of
working with that individual that capitalize on strengths.
• Third, a leader must work with the employee to understand
his weaknesses and how to minimize them. The issue of
working to improve a person’s weaknesses is still a source of
debate. In some cases, a person’s weakness is easy to work
around by making slight improvements or creating support
systems. For example, a person who is not good with details
can partner with someone whose strength is handling the
specifics.35 In other situations, it may be necessary to stop
“doing” the weakness. From my experience, the issue here
is one of magnitude and impact. Sometimes, a weakness or
blind spot is damaging, like an individual who continuously
and publicly chastises colleagues for doing “lousy work.” In
this case, I would argue that there is no workaround. The
behavior is detrimental and needs to stop.
• Fourth, a leader must balance an individual’s strengths with
the needs of the organization. This is an issue of matching
assignments with talent and organizational requirements with
individual strengths.

Leader as Coach and Teacher

As a college basketball fan, March Madness is like Christmas for

me. Growing up in my family, I was genetically wired to play my

very important part in what ESPN claims is one of the top five sports
rivalries of all times: Carolina-Duke basketball.36 When Will Blythe
wrote To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever: A Thoroughly Obses-
sive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of the
Duke-North Carolina Basketball Rivalry, I felt as if he had a front-
row seat in my living room.37 I am proud to say that I bleed Caro-
lina blue, which Duke Fans could argue is a reason for me to never
donate blood. In addition to a great rivalry and a slew of great players
from both teams, there are two legendary coaches in Mike Krzyze-
wski of Duke, and Dean Smith, the former coach at Carolina. Each
has been a remarkable coach and a less than remarkable player. We
know that the best players, like the best salespeople or the best engi-
neers, do not necessarily make the best coaches. In making the tran-
sition from player to coach and teacher, people like Dean Smith and
Coach K have connected their personal success with team success. They
bring value to the organization not because they played the game but
because they teach the game and create the conditions for successful
The concept of leader as coach and teacher is used more broadly than
the use of “coaching” as a leadership style. The coach and teacher role
in this case refers to ongoing performance and execution—the overall
approach of scoping out the work, making sure assignments are clear,
and working with the team and team members to execute effectively and
make improvements as needed. However, the role is also “coaching” in
the professional development sense by working with people individually
to increase their capabilities over time.
When it comes to “on-the-field” performance, coaches succeed or fail
based on their ability to

• set standards;
• clarify expectations;
• give ongoing performance feedback;
• motivate and challenge.

Set standards.  A major responsibility of the leader as a coach is to

set clear goals and objectives for both the team and each individual

team member. Standards mark the level of performance required for

successful execution.

Clarify expectations.  A successful coach sets clear expectations. It

doesn’t mean that every role is clearly scripted for every possible sce-
nario. It does mean, however, that each person needs to make sure he
or she understands expectations and ask for clarity if they don’t have it.

Give ongoing feedback.  Feedback is to coaching as oxygen is to

breathing. As a coach, giving feedback is most effective when it

• is objective and specific, using examples to explain what did

or did not happen;
• is actionable, meaning that there is an action an individual
can take to continue or eliminate the behavior;
• describes the impact of the observed behavior;
• engages the receiver;
• defines next steps that commit both coach and player to take

Feedback is both positive and constructive, used in situations when a

team or team member meets or misses the mark. Feedback ranges from
the formal and planned, as in a meeting scheduled for that purpose, to
the informal and spontaneous, as in a quick follow-up to a conversation.
In each case, the “rules” for the previously listed feedback should be used.

Motivate and challenge.  Setting standards, clarifying expectations,

and giving feedback are reflected in the daily ritual and natural way
of doing business between the leader as coach and their team. The
ability to motivate and challenge takes these interactions up a notch.
Coaches who truly inspire others know when and how to motivate
and challenge them. It’s personal, a mark of personal interest and be-
lief from the coach to the player, the leader to a direct report. It’s
an emotional connection made by knowing what’s important to each
person, and showing how their performance helps fulfill their needs
and aspirations.

Use Deliberate Practice to Improve Performance

What is the one thing that Wolfgang Mozart, Jerry Rice, and Tiger Woods
have most in common that has made them successful? Is it the following:

1. Superstar designation by their rivals

2. Child prodigies
3. Unique natural talents
4. Deliberate practice

Tempted to answer one of the first three responses? Geoff Colvin, author
of Talent is Overrated, argues that the correct answer is the fourth one,
deliberate practice.38 Colvin uses examples from such fields as chess
(Bobby Fisher), sports (Jerry Rice), music (Itzhak Perlman), and busi-
ness (Bill Gates) to make the point that it is deliberate practice, not sim-
ply natural talent, that creates outstanding performers. Colvin bases his
argument on the research conducted by Anders Ericsson and his research

The search for stable heritable characteristics that could predict or

at least account for the superior performance of eminent individu-
als has been surprisingly unsuccessful . . . . The difference between
expert performers and normal adults reflects the life-long period
of deliberate effort to improve performance in a specific domain.39

Deliberate practice is not what you see around the house every day. What
Colvin describes is a unique process that has unique impact:

• It is designed specifically to improve performance

• It can be repeated “a lot”
• Feedback on the results is continuously available
• It’s highly demanding mentally (even for physical endeavors)
• It’s not much fun40

In addition to its impact on performance, Colvin argues that what makes

deliberate practice powerful is that it changes how top performers think

and how they see the world. When compared to average performers, top

• tend to see things sooner;

• understand the significance of certain indicators, such as
details that might be indicative of a trend or pattern;
• look further ahead;
• make finer distinctions;
• remember more;
• know more from seeing less.41

You may be thinking that the concept of deliberate practice is more appli-
cable to coaching college all-stars or teaching performance violinists than
it is to leading a business or organization. Actually, the principles directly
apply to the responsibilities of a leader as coach and teacher. Colvin
describes how the best organizations incorporate these principles into a
culture of talent development. In these organizations, you could expect to
see an environment of continuous feedback, learning from failures as well
as successes, going back to the drawing board, and heading down to the
practice field to try it again. Deliberate practice sharpens skill sets, builds
organizational capacity, and potentially impacts the ability of people to
broaden their thinking horizons, to see farther down the road, to antici-
pate situations, and to make better decisions.42

Delegate for Development

Delegation is the leader’s Swiss army knife. It is a unique multipurpose

capability for leading change, developing talent, and creating greater
organizational capacity. Delegation is generally defined as giving some-
one the authority to complete a task or assignment. The purpose cov-
ers a range of situations, from
Delegation is the leader’s Swiss army
needing an extra pair of hands
knife. It is a unique multipurpose capa-
to complete a single task to the
bility for leading change, developing tal-
major responsibilities attached
ent, and creating greater organizational
to managing a piece of the

In the middle of this spectrum are often opportunities for a leader to

delegate assignments such as learning and development assignments.

• For example, an individual approaches a manager for how

to handle a specific issue or problem. Rather than giving an
answer, the manager turns the question around by asking
the individual to clearly define the issue, provide supporting
data, suggest options for taking action, and make a
recommendation. These are the “teachable moments” that
give someone experience now, making it possible to delegate
these decisions or assignment to them in the future.
• There’s also the “see one, do one, teach one” method of
delegation, the so-called intern model used in the medical
• There are situations where a manager delegates responsibilities
to a specific employee as part of a strategic process to broaden
that individual’s experience and skill set.

Effective delegation has several important benefits:

• It expands an employee’s skill sets and broadens his or her

• It motivates those who crave for new and challenging
• It enables the leader to take on more responsibility from their
• It prepares successors for the roles they will one day inherit.
• It builds and expands organizational capability and

Scan the Landscape for Development Opportunities

In addition to coaching, the leader is continuously on reconnaissance to

find development opportunities for his or her employees for both cur-
rent and future roles. While some organizations have designed on-the-job
development programs, such as rotational assignments or internships, the

vast majority of these are opportunistic in nature. Leaders seize on these

opportunities when they have:

1. a clear understanding for what skills and experiences an individual

wants and needs based on strengths, interests, and motivation;
2. a vast network and connections throughout the business;
3. good negotiation skills to secure these positions once they are located;
4. the ability to go nonlinear in terms of finding opportunities in dif-
ferent parts of the business that could broaden someone’s strengths
and talents.

The key is that the leader as coach is constantly vigilant, always on the
prowl for development opportunities while motivating and challenging
team members to expand their capabilities in their current roles.

Where and How Are You Spending Time as

a Teacher and Coach?

In your role as the teacher and coach, you have an opportunity to favor-
ably impact a person’s career development and increase the capability of
the team and consequently the business. Here is some food for thought
for making the coaching role a priority.

1. Coaching is an interactive process for development planning and

implementation with each team member with routinely scheduled
coaching meetings for feedback, engagement, and measuring prog-
ress against goals.

a) For new team members, these meetings are often directed to learn-
ing the fundamentals of the job and role, ongoing feedback, and
lessons learned.
b) For experienced individuals, coaching often takes the form of
development assignments and stretch goals to provide challeng-
ing, engaging, and exciting opportunities that broaden an indi-
vidual’s base of expertise and credibility.

c) For the seasoned professional, it’s focusing on where that individ-

ual is headed, broadening that person’s visibility across the busi-
ness, and developing the skills and experiences needed to have a
broader impact on the business.

2. Effective coaching is a function of both the amount and quality of

time spent in professional development for the purposes of increased
personal competence.
Do the math: To what extent are you spending time teaching and
coaching each individual team member on a routine basis? Weekly?
Monthly? Quarterly? Yearly? None of the above? Do not count
weekly project updates or problem resolution meetings unless a por-
tion of that time is devoted to feedback, skill development, and les-
sons learned.
Recommendation: Spending one hour monthly with each person or
the equivalent of three hours quarterly coaching each individual is a
manageable and solid routine.
3. Is there a development plan with professional development goals for
each team member? These are not the functional or business goals
needed in the annual performance appraisal. These are specifically
dedicated to skill, competency, and behavioral development to
improve and expand personal capability. Harness the impact of goals
because they create action, intent, and specificity.
4. A good development plan consists of

• two to three SMART goals;

If you are not familiar with SMART, an effective goal must be
specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-phased. An
often used example is the statement that “I want to lose weight,”
a desirable state but not a SMART goal. “I am going to lose 10
pounds in the next 60 days by watching my diet and working out
at the YMCA five times per week”—now that’s SMART, in more
ways than one.
• a statement of the desired impact;
• specific development activities for specific and deliberate
• measures of success.

Table 4.1  Professional development goal example

development Desired Measure of
goal impact Development activities success
To increase my Address ¯ Attend the Effective Presen- Follow-up with at
presentation each tation training course that least one member
capability by audience at includes video-taped feedback from each group for
presenting to his or her on June 30 their feedback and
three different level of un- ¯ Observe at least one presenta- recommendations
audiences on the derstanding tion at a meeting conducted
need for changes and with by an outstanding presenter
in the tech specific im- in our organization, such as
transfer process plications Dr. Koonce
by December 15. for his or ¯ Create a draft presentation
her area ¯ Review the outline with
my manager for structure,
content, and how to frame for
each audience
¯ rep for each presentation

by meeting with at least one
member from each audience
in advance to get his or her
¯ Practice using clear, concise,
and relevant language and

Table 4.1 is an example of a professional development goal using

SMART criteria.
5. While your role as coach is critical, the accountability for the profes-
sional development plan rests with the team member. You and the
organization provide the context and opportunity for development.
When the team member takes ownership of his or her development,
it’s a win–win outcome all the way around.

Leads by Example
“The Shocker: I Am the Problem”
Successful leaders know that others scrutinize their behavior, some-
times their every move. They know this comes with the territory and
use this knowledge to their advantage. They understand their impact on
others and use their presence to lead by example.43

To lead by example is to lead with intent. Ralph Stayer, the chief exec-
utive officer (CEO) of Johnsonville Sausage, is one person who under-
stands what this means.44 Stayer describes how he came to the realization
that the “victim mentality” he had demonstrated over the years was mir-
rored throughout his organization. One day it hit him. Stayer realized
that he had to make the change “from being a victim to being responsi-
ble.” The question he asked himself: “What am I doing or not doing that
causes the situation I don’t like?” As a result, Stayer changed his behavior
to demonstrate what he expected others to do, to take responsibility and
ownership over what they could control, or to influence the situation
for a favorable outcome when they didn’t. “No more ‘victimitis.’ ” Stayer
modeled the behavior he expected of others. Today these behaviors are
imbedded in the culture known as the Johnsonville Way. And it started
with one shocking realization: “I am the problem.”45

Chapter Summary
Mentoré leadership stage comparisons

Expertise stage Credibility stage Alignment &

execution stage
What Who How
Track record Image & reputation Coaching & leading by
Knowledge & experience Communication & Decision making,
influence prioritization &
problem resolution
Depth Breadth Agility
Student of knowledge Student of people Student of the
Native intelligence Emotional intelligence Systems thinking
How smart you are How you deliver value to How to maximize
others in the organization operational efficiencies
Knowing your subject Knowing your audience Knowing your organization

Taking Stock

• Moving into the stage of alignment and execution is a

Rubicon moment in leadership development. It’s not simply

moving beyond building expertise and credibility into

what’s next, nor is it only about just executing differently.
The move requires a different way of thinking with different
competencies for a different purpose—to build the capability
and capacity of the organization and to manage your piece of
the business.
• Having to work through others in the contemporary world
is no longer just because you have a team or organization
reporting to you. Managing projects, leading cross-functional
initiatives, and simply the day-to-day maneuvering in a
matrix environment require working through people who
don’t report to you.
• One of the biggest misconceptions high achievers have when
they manage a team is that they have to be super achievers,
who need to know more, do more, or oversee every detail of
the work like they would do if they were doing it alone. The
problem is that they’re not doing it alone, and the tendency to
micromanage heads them down a slippery slope.
• Success in the alignment and execution stage is simultaneously
stepping up, taking on more responsibility for your piece of
the business, and letting go, no longer having to be the best
student in the class.
• Working in this stage asks the question how—how do we
achieve results?
• It’s always about execution, looking at on-the-field
performance. The important perspective in alignment and
execution, however, is also from “the press box,” to see how
the elements of the team or organization align and determine
if adjustments are needed.
• The landscape of an organization is defined by (a) its
culture, how people relate; (b) its operations, how business
processes relate; and (c) how the culture and operations
• Culture defines a way of doing business, how people
are treated, what’s valued and important, and what gets
recognized, rewarded, and reinforced. The culture is created,

reinforced, or changed through behavior that reflect the

desired values, not simply by espousing the values.
• The Good to Great companies researched by Collins give us
a clear understanding that cultures are definable entities that
produce measurable outcomes. Leadership effectiveness can
also have an impact on the type of culture that’s created.46
• Organizational climate is a measure of how people experience
the organization. Organizations measure climate through
the dimensions of flexibility, responsibility, standards,
clarity, rewards, and team commitment. Clarity is the one
characteristic most closely associated with personal and
organizational productivity.
• Analytical thinking and emotional intelligence are critical
thought processes in the stages of building a leadership base,
but in this stage, systems thinking is also required.
• The high-performance organization is a systems model for
analyzing organizational effectiveness and understanding the
impact of change. The system is composed on the elements
of leadership, organization, jobs, and people. The leader’s role
is to monitor both the external business environment and
the organization, to realign the elements as required, and to
understand how adjustments impact overall execution.
• Managing change and leading change are not differences in
semantics; they represent two different approaches. Managing
change looks to control change as it enters the system.
Leading change looks to turbo charge change through the
system. John Kotter’s model for leading change is a pragmatic
approach that starts with a sense of urgency and a coalition of
supporters to create quick victories. These are augmented with
ongoing communication and the consolidation of small wins
into the “new” way of doing business.
• Leaders adapt by making adjustments in their styles for how
they lead. They understand that the situation and people
involved determine what style of leadership—from providing
specific direction to allowing the team to call the shots—is

• The leader as coach and teacher moves an organization from

managing performance to developing talent. Good leaders
are good coaches who know how to “teach the game” and
motivate individuals to achieve. Their interest is personal and
it shows. They know that good talent is highly marketable
and at one point good talent moves on. They also believe that
as talent developers they can attract the best players. Talent
leaves, and new talent walks in the door.
• Deliberate practice is a methodical process for developing
skills and acquiring competencies in an environment of
continuous learning, application, and feedback. Over time,
deliberate practice can change how someone thinks, to see
more from less, to anticipate, and to make better decisions.
• Delegation is the multipurpose leadership tool that broadens
individual capabilities, prepares successors, and expands
organizational capacity.
• In addition to delegating assignments for development, a
leader needs to be ever vigilant for team member development
opportunities both inside and outside the functional
• As a leader, people take their cues not from what you say
but from what you do. If the two don’t line up, they go with
what you do. Leading by example is acting in the manner that
you expect of others. It speaks to your presence, stature, and

Stage Four: Strategy

Bolting Down to Infinity

Life in the Third Dimension

Comedians Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner created a comic routine in 1961
called the “2000 year old man.” In one skit, Reiner asks Mel Brooks,
born in the BC era and living today, if he always prayed to the Almighty.
Brooks said that was not always the case. In the early days, they used to
pray to a guy named Phil. Then one day the sky opened up and a light-
ning bolt struck and killed Phil. At that point, Brooks recalls, we knew
that “there’s somebody bigger than Phil.”1
Every organization has its own Phil moment. Consider the economic
events in 2008: some businesses did not survive. Such situations demon-
strate how forces outside the organization’s control have a catastrophic
effect on what happens inside the system. Organizations must look
beyond their boundaries and scan the external horizon. It means going
beyond how the system works to the external factors and why these fac-
tors are uniquely important. Moving from how to why is a big step. In the
alignment and execution stage, a leader looks down into the organizational
system; in the strategy stage, a leader looks up and outside the system and
asks why—why are we doing what we do?
Think about the evolution of leadership to this point. In the expertise
stage, a leader learns to poke and prod on the current reality—to see
it, understand it, and digest it. Analytical thinking and curiosity work
together to build a base of knowledge and experience. This keeps you
grounded. Life in the expertise stage is predictable, bolted down.
The transition into the credibility stage requires emotional intelli-
gence—to study people and understand what makes them tick. You focus


Strategy stage
Strategy is engaging in strategic leadership which requires looking
out beyond organizational or functional boundaries to understand
the bigger picture and the business.

Mentoré strategy competencies

Strategic thinker: the ability to see the big picture by thinking broadly and
extrapolating from current to future trends and outcomes
Walks in the customer’s shoes: creates and develops a customer dialogue
that can involve all levels of the organization
Business partner and strategist: works as partner and positions the orga-
nization to deliver value through ongoing commitment and shared risk for
the success of the end-customer; strives for win–win–win outcomes
Business savvy: a potent mix of strategic thinking and business acumen
with experience and insight that yields a confidence for moving smartly to
the future

on building trust, increasing visibility, communicating and influencing

others effectively, and delivering something of value so that others suc-
ceed. As expertise and credibility build on each other, they create a track
record of success and increase personal capability and competence. The
combination of native intelligence and emotional intelligence makes you
smarter. The organization needs this type of smartness.
Then there’s a leap into alignment and execution where the organiza-
tion asks you to run a part of the business. Your value needs to be expo-
nential—to increase organizational capacity by accomplishing work
through others. This requires a change in focus, to look at the dynamics

of change rather than strictly an analytical, cause-effect perspective. You

head up to the press box to get a better view of how all the moving parts
work together, and how alignment impacts overall performance. You tin-
ker, adjust, reassess, and execute. Change, once a stranger, is now your
next-door neighbor. Nothing is bolted down; by design, people, processes,
and structure are held together by Velcro. It’s a mix-and-match world.
But there is more. Change is a constant
force in the organization. While we are
Alignment and Strategy
told that the world out there is smaller, the execution
world in here, inside the business, seems
bigger. The only way that leadership can
accommodate the impact of change is to
expand in yet a third dimension—under-
standing the business in the context of the
bigger picture. This is not a conceptual
argument. It is motivated by a need to see a future direction and path
forward. It’s also motivated by fear—that success in the present may
not translate to success or even existence in the future. Heads-down
leadership affirms, “How do we get better today?” Head’s up leadership
asks, “Will we be around tomorrow?” What has happened to the use of
instamatic cameras for everyday pictures? Gone. Onion skin and car-
bon paper? Gone. ZAP mail? Gone. Typewriters, rotary phones, Univac
computers, dinosaurs, eight track tapes, Spin and Marty, Vaudeville? All
gone. It is easy to say change or die. But that does not help understand
why change is needed and how organizations and businesses evolve to
make it to tomorrow.

What Is Different?

Leadership at this strategic level is unique. The strategic competencies

have more to do with how you think and view the world than simply the
behaviors you adopt. Leadership in this stage requires

1. a broader perspective, strategic thinking, and the ability to see the

bigger picture;
2. a different perspective, the ability to walk in your customer’s shoes;

3. a new perspective, to work as a partner and strategist to the

4. an integrated perspective, whole-brain thinking that leads to being
business savvy.

Strategic Thinking: A Broader Perspective

What Is Strategic Thinking?

To begin with, an explanation of what

A leader must commit to that which
something is not is to acknowledge
has not yet happened.
the confusion for what something is.
Roger Nierenberg
This is the approach Professor Jeanne
M. Liedtka describes in “Strategic
Thinking: Can It Be Taught?” Liedtka contends that strategic thinking

is often viewed as thinking about strategy. Strategic thinking, however, is

not strategy or strategic planning. Strategy, as we will explore, is a pro-
posed course of action that gives direction and a sorting mechanism for
what an organization will, and conversely, will not do. Several manage-
ment experts including Mintzberg (1994),3 Nasi (1991),4 and Hamel
and Prahalad (1994)5 clearly articulate the difference between strategic
thinking and strategic planning. Mintzberg, for one, argued that strategic
planning is an “analytical process for programming already identifiable
strategies.” Strategic thinking, however, is “a synthesis process, utilizing
intuition and creativity” whose outcome is “an integrated perspective of
the enterprise.”6
Liedtka, like Mintzberg, describes strategic thinking as a thinking
process, not the business process of strategic planning.7 Liedtka identifies
five distinct qualities:

1. A systems perspective
This is the same type of thinking described in the alignment and
execution stage. Liedtka adds, however, that there is the need to look
outside the boundaries of the system at those factors that impact
what is inside. Much like a bigger picture, there is a bigger system
that encompasses the system in question.

2. Intent-focused
According to Hamel and Prahalad,8 strategic intent conveys
a) a sense of direction—a competitively unique position;
b) a sense of discovery—a promise of exploration;
c) a sense of destiny—an emotional commitment.
3. Intelligent opportunism
While intent drives direction, there is also a need to look at alterna-
tives and to keep options open as part of the conversation.
4. Thinking in time
Thinking in time is a way to connect the present and the future.
5. Hypothesis-driven
Liedtka argues that strategic thinking is an iterative process best
served by hypothesis testing and the scientific method of discovery.

Strategic Thinking and Chaos Theory

As Dr. T. Irene Sanders tells the story, on a winter day in 1961, Dr. Edward
Lorenz, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology research meteorologist
and mathematician, walked away from his desk to grab a cup of coffee.9
He had just plugged numbers into a weather forecasting model on his
computer as he normally did, or so he thought. When he returned, what
he saw would change the way scientists think about the future. Instead of
the normal pattern, Lorenz saw something different, wilder fluctuations
than ever before. Had he done anything differently? In thinking back over
his routine, he realized he made one small change, which was rounding
off 1 of 12 variables, from 0.506127 to 0.506. To paraphrase Neil Arm-
strong’s 1969 famous moon-landing quote, “that’s one small rounding
step for a scientist, one giant leap for science.”10
Lorenz is considered the father of chaos theory, which sounds totally
devoid of scientific reasoning but is actually quite the opposite. What
Lorenz discovered was that the forecast for the weather in Boston tomor-
row, for example, is not based solely on the weather in Milwaukee today.
That’s because it does not take into account a multitude of factors that
could change the weather pattern. Lorenz postulated that these changes
are nonlinear, but because these changes are rooted in the present, they are
less than random and subject to some level of predictability. He refers to

the present conditions as initiating conditions. The pattern that results

from the initiating conditions and their transformation caused by the
other change-related factors is called the butterfly effect, named in part
from a paper Lorenz wrote and from the basic shape of the pattern itself.11
Lorenz argues that the future (tomorrow’s weather in Boston) is based
on known initiating conditions (today’s weather in Milwaukee) and their
sensitivity to certain forces in their path (the jet stream and a weather
front moving up the East Coast).12

Principles of Strategic Thinking

It may be described as chaos, but the concept of thinking about the future
based on the current reality is critical to what it means to think strategi-
cally. Using the Lorenz legacy and her own research, Dr. Sanders describes
four key strategic thinking principles:

1. The future is rooted in the present. Seeing the future in today’s reality
is the power of insight. Insights are often spontaneous flashes that
seem to appear from nowhere.
2. Looking to the future requires an understanding of “the creative
potential and sensitivity to new influences.” Sanders refers to these
influences as perking conditions.
3. Strategic thinking is an interplay of the right brain with the left
brain, the combination of the creative with the analytical.
4. Strategic thinking is visual thinking. It is the ability literally to see the
future based on a pattern of thought. As Sanders explains, “The big-
gest difference between those who receive spontaneous insights and
those who are known to be visual thinkers is that visual thinkers con-
sciously nurture the process of insight. They use their imaginations to
engage both intuition and intellect.”13 However, the fact that you see it
does not mean that others see and understand it. Herein lies one of the
biggest challenges in strategic leadership: the ability to translate visual
thinking into a vision and picture that others see and comprehend.14

Like Lorenz, Sanders helps us understand the need to think of the future
as an extrapolation of the current reality. Making this connection is

thinking strategically, “the skill that will allow us to see and influence the
future, today.”15 While the future may appear random and unpredictable,
there is “a type of self-organizing pattern, shape, or structure that becomes
obvious when the behavior of the system is seen as a whole. There is order
hidden beneath the disorder.”16

“Thinking Without Thinking”

Insight, Foresight, and Intuition

How is it that a former tennis pro turned coach, Vic Braden, can pre-
dict when a player will double fault with uncanny accuracy? How can
an orthopedic surgeon in Boston look at a magnetic resonance image
(MRI) of my shoulder and instantaneously say “your shoulder is trashed,”
or my border collie Millie know exactly where I was going to kick a ball
the minute it left my foot? Ask Malcom Gladwell.17 It seems that some
people (and dogs) have the ability to see more from less, a process for
turning flashes of insight into successful predictions for the future. Simi-
lar to what happens through deliberate practice and visual thinking, some
people use their experience and insight to tell them what to expect. At one
time it may have been a conscious thought process built on long hours of
observation and study. But over time it becomes unconscious, where the
whole picture is captured in the smallest detail. As Gladwell explains, for
these people it may begin as a flash, first impression, or snap judgment,
but in time the ability to zero in on the unexplainable is continuously
decoded. Gladwell adds, “Whenever we have something we are good at—
something we care about—that experience and passion fundamentally
change the nature of our first impressions.” What we are building is a
“data-base of the unconscious.”18
Collectively, Liedtka, Sanders, and Gladwell describe a way of think-
ing we have not encountered to this point in the evolution of leadership.
What’s different, important, and unique about this process are the follow-
ing characteristics. Strategic thinking

• is nonlinear but has some degree of predictability;

• starts in the present and links to the future;
• has the capacity to shape a forward direction;

• is thinking with the whole brain, a combination of logic and

• has the capability to see more from less;
• envelops risk taking and innovation as part of the process
rather than separate disciplines;
• is continuously reinforced through a unique blend of
experience and insight that moves from conscious to
unconscious thought;
• embraces insight, foresight, and intuition as leadership
principles, not psychological concepts.

How to Think Strategically

Strategic thinking begins with

A good hockey player plays where the puck the ability to step back from
is. A great hockey player plays where the the day-to-day routine, to bet-
puck is going to be. ter understand what is going
Wayne Gretzky on, and to ask why things are
happening as they do. The
capacity to think strategically is strengthened by focusing on three major

1. Anticipation
To anticipate is to realize something before it happens, to be proac-
tive. Anticipation shapes the front end of strategic thinking because
it puts your mind on alert for what to expect, to factor in next steps
(the future) based on an understanding of past situations and current
experience. Anticipation and proactive thinking are good mental cal-
isthenics for thinking outside the current reality.
2. Extrapolation
In mathematical terms, extrapolation is “an estimation of a value
based on extending a known sequence of values or facts beyond the
area that is certainly known.”19 From a strategic thinking perspec-
tive, extrapolation is the process of projecting out from the present
situation to a future point beyond known next steps. As a strate-
gic thinking capability, there are two types of extrapolation: (a) by

plotting a linear-type trajectory from here to there or (b) by plotting

a nonlinear course defined by using a reference point in a differ-
ent dimension, in this case, the future. A linear-type trajectory is
the extrapolation from the current to the future based on movement
along the same path. Moving from desktop computers to laptops
illustrates such movement. The introduction of a reference point
in the future, however, creates a different dynamic. Instead of plot-
ting the future based on a linear trajectory, the future reference point
defines a different, unique, and nonlinear path for moving forward.
Think of the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, a combination of
an iPod, computer, phone, and camera wrapped into one product.
The reference point in this case is the vision of such a device that fits
in and is operated by your hand. The combination of four devices
into a hand-held and operated device created a different, unique,
and nonlinear path forward from the current state of technology at
that time.20

  Asking “What If ?”
Nonlinear extrapolation may sound more complicated than
intended. It uses a similar line of inquiry introduced in curios-
ity, one of the fundamental competencies in the expertise stage.
This is asking the question, what if. Admittedly, curiosity in the
context of the big picture is operating in rarified air, where seeing
something that is not visible today is held in the palm of millions
of hands tomorrow. The what if question opens the door to tak-
ing risks, thinking creatively, and looking beyond the constraints
imposed by the current reality. Asking what if shakes any degree
of certainty created by moving from the known present to the
predictable future. Perhaps, this type of thinking is the reason why
Lorenz was tagged with discovering a theory of chaos.

 Extrapolation is expressed through vision. Vision is a picture of
what success looks like in the future. A picture is not simply words
and concepts. I can describe the process of the sun rising over the
Grand Canyon to you, or I can show you a picture. Which is more

impactful? The power of vision is that you see it, you help others
see it, and they help others to see it as well.
As a leader, a vision must connect emotionally with those around
you. A good place to start is the development of a simple statement
of a vision for your part of the business. Consider the following:

• How do you define the role of your group?

• What is the value that your group creates for the business?
• What is the guiding principle that you can point to that
gives meaning to any activity in which you or your group are
engaged, that answers the question why—why are we doing
this activity?
• What does success look like?
• As a result of that success, what would you see? This is the
picture that you’re looking to create.

3. Translation
Translation is the process that converts strategic thinking into
concrete action. Without action, strategic thinking can easily be
construed as nothing more than fortune telling. The process of
translation is similar to Liedtka’s description of hypothesis testing,
a unique blend of analytical thinking and creative problem solv-
ing.21 But what’s strikingly different about translation is the ability to
describe the present in the future tense, and the future in the present
tense. If this sounds a lot like strategy, it’s because it is.

Strategy: Applying Strategic Thinking to the Business

Change or die? How about “be strategic or be gone.” Richard Horwath,

author and expert in the field of strategy and strategic thinking, describes
an urgency that is echoed throughout the business world. Horwath
defines strategic thinking as “the generation and application of business
insights on a continual basis to achieve global competitive advantage.”22
Thinking strategically, according to Horwath, requires the three As: acu-
men through insight, allocation of resources, and action. Insight relates
to business outcomes.23 Strategic insight requires a deeper dive, which
means to search for deeper insight by connecting known information in

different ways. Horwath’s sources of insight are understanding the context

of the business, talking to customers, and using conceptual models to
transform information into understanding.24
Like Sanders, Horwath creates a line of sight from the present to the
future. Uniquely, however, is how Horwath links strategic thinking to

• First there is insight.

• Insight leads to foresight.
• Foresight creates differentiation and defines direction.
• Direction creates choices.
• Choices define allocation of limited resources.

In short, Horwath defines strategy as “the intelligent allocation of limited

resources through a unique system of activities to outperform the compe-
tition in serving customers.”25
Jack Welch, former chief executive officer (CEO) of General Electric,
equates strategy with a straightforward, unambiguous plan for winning:

• “Strategy means making clear-cut choices about how to

compete. You cannot be everything to everybody, no matter
what the size of your business and how deep its pockets.”
• “In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick
a general direction and implement like hell.”
• “If you’re headed in the right direction and are broad enough,
strategies don’t really need to change all that often.”26

It would be remise to discuss strategy without considering Michael Porter.

Porter’s principles, which are widely studied and responsible for much of
the current thinking on the topic, reflect several of the themes previously

• Strategy is not operational effectiveness.

• Strategy is about being different. “It means deliberately
choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of

• A sustainable strategic position requires trade-offs. Deliberate

choices have to be made.
• The concept of fit represents an operational chain where
everything counts. Fit drives both competitive advantage and
sustainability. There are no weak or unnecessary links.
• Organizations need to rediscover strategy. Looking at
operational effectiveness is seductive because of the push for
measurable results. Yet, without strategy to guide choice,
organizations engage in activities that may or may not align to
the future direction.28

Walking in Your Customer’s Shoes: A Different

As Horwath points out, customers are one of the most important forces
that shape the business landscape. They are an important source of insight.
A customer is an individual or group to whom you and your organization
provide products and services. From an enterprise perspective, customers
break out into two groups: internal, meaning inside your organization
and downstream from where you sit, and external, the ultimate consum-
ers of what your organization delivers, the people who write the checks
that enable you to pay your bills. Walking in your customer’s shoes is
different from customer focus. “Walking in their shoes” begins with your
customer. It is a way for you to connect emotionally with them by looking
out at the world through their eyes, to understand and experience the
world as they do. Customer focus, on the other hand, implies that the
perspective begins with you. Focusing on the customer is a good start, but,
without the drive to dig deeper for customer understanding, the nature of
the relationship tends to be only transactional.
The ability to walk in your customer’s shoes is important for three
reasons. First, it is a big credibility builder. Building credibility takes
time, but the time represents a deliberate investment. Credibility opens
communication, and communication leads to understanding and
insight. Second, it gives you a perspective of how your customer sees
the world, a perspective that also includes how they see you. Third,
it enables you and your organization to anticipate future needs, look

for future opportunities, and translate customer data into strategy and
action steps.

The Power of Dialogue

The ability to understand your customers, both internal and external, hap-
pens best through dialogue. Dialogue is a process of engagement intended
to build relationships through mutual understanding. Daniel Yankelovich,
noted public opinion expert and social scientist, describes dialogue as a
process needed to bridge the understanding gap and facilitate a level of
engagement “that is missing in contemporary American society.”29 Yan-
kelovich credits theoretical physicist David Bohm as one of dialogue’s
original thinkers: “To his own surprise, Bohm learned that world-class
physicists develop their most creative ideas not in solitary thought but
through dialogue with one another.”30 Peter Senge, an expert in organiza-
tional development and learning, states that dialogue is essential to team
learning, “the capacity of members of a team to suspend assumptions and
enter into a genuine thinking together.”31 In addition, the unique capabil-
ity created through the process of dialogue is ideally suited to engage both
internal and external customers.

Dialogue Fundamentals

Engaging in customer dialogue is not confined to a particular form or

format, but there are several guidelines to consider:

1. Preparation
Preparation speaks to intent: What are you looking to understand
and accomplish through these discussions? Preparation includes
thinking about purpose and outcomes, who needs to be a part of
this process, what topics to pursue, and what questions to ask.
2. The proper framing
Setting expectations for the process with your customers is criti-
cal. While the immediate need is often to solve problems or resolve
issues, the long-term objective is to create a structure for open com-
munication and commitment to mutually beneficial outcomes.

Framing should also include important ground rules for open com-
munication and feedback: the use of objective observations and spe-
cific examples, the discussion of impact, and engagement in problem
solving, not personal attacks or blame.
3. Use of probing, open-ended questions
This may seem like a small detail, but these questions are extremely
important to the process. Questions such as “What is the biggest
challenge you face in the coming year?” “How do you and your
organization measure success?” or “What are your customer’s big-
gest challenges?” are the types of questions that open up a deeper
discussion of what is critical and important. Obviously, the specific
questions will depend on the overall purpose, and it is important to
create these questions ahead of time.
4. Active listening
This skill never goes away. In any conversa-
Active listening is the skill tion with customers, and particularly these
that never goes away. conversations, the key is listening. Listen-
ing builds trust. This does not mean you
have to agree with your customer’s point of view. It does mean you
have to understand it.
5. Taking action
At some point, the dialogue process yields a set of actions that can
range from resolving problems, taking corrective actions, generating
new ideas, to taking unprecedented next steps. A successful process
reinforces desired outcomes, and successful outcomes reinforce the
value of the process.

Dialogue as Discovery and Action

Dialogue is a process of discovery where you can anticipate three types of

opportunities that call for action, sometimes immediate, sometimes over
a period of time. These take the form of

1. problem resolution;
2. feedback;
3. heart-to-heart discussions.

1. Resolving problems and issues is perhaps the most common and

most transactional level of customer interaction. Problem reso-
lution is a reactive and essential process. It is typically measured
by (a) the timeliness and level of the response, and (b) the effec-
tiveness of the solution. Timeliness and responsiveness are critical
behaviors that, over time, build credibility in the customer’s eyes.
Where ongoing dialogue helps turn the corner on problem resolu-
tion is through problem anticipation. This is clearly more proactive,
intended to mitigate problems in advance. It also pushes deeper
into issues by looking at root causes and patterns, which, if under-
stood, can eradicate problems before they develop. As the clean
version of the bumper sticker says, problems happen, so having
an effective and timely resolution process is essential. Anticipation,
on the other hand, is a more strategic and potentially longer-term
2. The second opportunity for dialogue is to ask for and give feedback.
This could be feedback regarding a specific situation or initiative, or
it could be more generalized over a period of time. Both are opportu-
nities for proactive, in-depth discussions. One example is the project
postmortem. Properly framed, this discussion enables you and your
customer to put all issues on the table, such as successes and frustra-
tions, lessons learned, and what to do differently next time. These
discussions are a mix of facts and perceptions, objective data, and
personal needs. Like any other type of dialogue, the goal is under-
standing, not agreement. The purpose is to pinpoint what is critical
for all parties and to strategize about how to move forward together
in the future.
3. The heart-to-heart discussion is the most intimate and at the deepest
level of the dialogue process. Getting to the level of what is fun-
damentally important for you, your customers, and your business
partners—both now and moving forward—can grow out of an
open and ongoing process for problem solving and feedback. This
is not to say, however, that you shouldn’t set aside a particular time
to have a heart-to-heart discussion. These discussions are particu-
larly important under two conditions: when there is an obvious mis-
match of expectations, and when there is a specific need to take the

r­elationship to a higher level. Whether it’s an ongoing process or

a particular discussion, the purpose is the same, that is, to go to a
deeper level of what’s truly important.

The pattern for customer dialogue that have been observed most often
is the evolution described earlier. It begins with working through thorny
problems first. In time, problem resolution and problem anticipation
evolve into discussions for improving processes. Both sides ask for and
get feedback on a regular basis. Somewhere in this mix, the needs for
proactive communication, sharing critical information, setting expecta-
tions, and clarifying roles and responsibilities emerge. If all parties stay
the course, they build a successful track record together. The combi-
nation of achieving success, learning from failure, and maintaining an
open dialogue create an invaluable framework for understanding and

Dialogue as Horizontal Alignment and Beyond

With some variation, the process of dialogue applies to both internal and
external customers. What’s similar is that the basic purpose, components,
and levels of discovery of the process applies equally to both groups.
What’s different, however, is what organizational elements the dialogue
impacts and the benefits that are accrued.

Crossing Borders

Utilizing the process of dialogue with internal customers means cross-

ing functional borders. Functional organizations, by design, are vertically
integrated and subject to their unique gravitational pull. On the one
hand, vertical integration creates focus. On the other hand, that focus
is directed down and inside the organization. While functional borders
define scope and clarify responsibilities, they also create jurisdictions
where one function ends and another begins. Different jurisdictions have
different priorities, responsibilities, and commitments. The greater the
internal focus, the tougher it is to move across borders.

Additionally, what makes the dialogue process particularly difficult

inside the same business organization are the expectations people have
for each other and the politics that comes with different jurisdictions.
On the one hand, many people expect that since everyone works for the
same business, they should share the same level of responsibility, priority,
and commitment. When people do not see that, they are less tolerant and
more agitated than they might be with someone from the outside. Then
there’s that nagging perception that jurisdictional politics is a zero-sum
game, one with known winners and losers. These perceptions start chang-
ing when strategic functional leaders willfully engage in dialogue with
other functional leaders to overcome differences and resolve territorial
disputes. What the dialogue process impacts is horizontal alignment, and
the potential outcome is a more unified understanding of the business.
As the number of successful border crossings increase, the opportunities
to streamline processes and communication increase, and the potential to
improve bottom-line performance increases as well.

Defining the Third Win

When compared with internal customers, dialogue with external custom-

ers varies in three ways.
First, as mentioned earlier, there seems to be more tolerance when
engaged with external customers. No doubt this is driven in part by the
higher risk of engaging directly with those who use your products and
services and write checks to your business and ultimately to you. None-
theless, the proactive nature of dialogue with external customers, whether
directed at problem resolution, problem anticipation, mutual feedback,
or the discovery of critical long-term needs, creates a context of openness,
mutual respect, and win–win outcomes. Second, successful dialogue with
external customers can increase new business opportunities and improve
efficiencies across both organizations. This impacts both top and bot-
tom-line performance.
Third, when engaged with external customers, there is a potential line
of sight from you, to your customers, and to their customers. The benefit
here is the opportunity to see beyond win–win outcomes by defining
the win for the customer’s customer: the win–win–win. When you and

your customer are focused on the third win, there is a point of mutual
alignment and far-reaching benefit. When you experience what your cus-
tomer experiences, you are in a better position to apply that knowledge
to provide better products, better services, and better solutions. On the
relationship-building side, you’re in it together.
It is not as easy to see the third win when looking internally, meaning
inside the business. When that line of sight exists, however, it has all the
power that strategy has to offer. It impacts and is impacted by horizontal
alignment that extends across the organization, to the boundary of the
business and across directly to customers. Differences arise when the line
of sight is less visible for some groups deep inside the organization, par-
ticularly where their priorities and metrics have no apparent connection
with customer outcomes. This is why crossing internal borders is critical.
Ultimately, dialogue and alignment reinforce each other, and their com-
bined power is critical for strategic success.

Working As a Partner and Strategist to the Business:

A New Perspective
From Cooperation to Collaboration to Partnering

While the concepts for cooperation, collaboration, and partnering are

often used interchangeably, they represent different levels of engagement
and ownership for results.
Cooperation is generally defined as working together to the same end.
Cooperation emphasizes how people work together to reach a common
objective. It’s possible that people can work together cooperatively but
have different levels of commitment to the outcome. Collaboration, like
cooperation, seeks good working relationships. What’s different with col-
laboration, however, is a greater emphasis on outcomes and creation of
mutual benefit. We think of collaboration as a win–win situation. Each
person or organization in the relationship may not measure success in the
same way, but each commits to the outcome and understands that both
must benefit for the relationship to succeed. In collaboration, commit-
ment and engagement work in parallel.
Partnering represents yet a different and unique level of engagement.
Using the concept of the third win, partners strive for outcomes that are

beneficial to each other and to the customer whom they have in common:
I win, my partner wins, and the customer wins. Partners make it a point
to learn about each other’s business and the impact that each has on the
other. Partnering looks and behaves differently from other relationships
because each partner makes a deeper, longer-term commitment to meet
each other’s needs and the needs of their customer, both now and in the
future. It means sharing the risks as well as the rewards. Working as a
partner, therefore, also requires a strategic perspective; the focus is less
on partner-specific measures of success and more on shared measures of
customer success.

Achieving Status As Partner and Strategist

One of the more common references to achieving a desired level of orga-

nizational status is “getting a seat at the table.” Thinking about status
takes us back to the role of credibility in leadership development. Status
is like credibility in two ways: (1) it is based on the perception of others,
and (2) it is not so much an end state as it is an indication of a particular
level of perceived value.
Attaining the status of partner and strategist doesn’t start in the strat-
egy stage of leadership development. It actually begins as part of the track
record of success you create through personal competence, a combination
of expertise and credibility. You build your leadership resumé through
increased organizational impact on alignment and execution, meaning
successful performance on a bigger stage to a broader audience. However,
there’s something else that is uniquely needed in the role of a strategist.
It’s called business acumen.
Ram Charan, noted business authority and adviser, defines business
acumen as “linking an insightful assessment of the external business land-
scape with the keen awareness of how money can be made—and then exe-
cuting the strategy to deliver the desired results.”32 This definition aligns
with the need for strategic thinking. The difference, however, is “the keen
awareness of how money can be made.” This introduces a new perspective,
learning about the business and applying that knowledge to job, team, or
function-specific activities. Isn’t this what senior leadership is supposed
to do, to understand how the business makes money and set strategy,

goals, and objectives that cascade down through the organization and ulti-
mately to your role? Yes, but what’s the likelihood that anyone is going to
hand you a specific flowchart that pinpoints your role and specific duties
needed to derive value and profitability? Remember what happened when
you crossed the Rubicon. You marched into a territory called running the
business. Who knows best about your role and the part of the business for
which you’re responsible? While senior leadership has its responsibilities,
you have yours in terms of translating knowledge of the business into
specific duties, priorities, choices, and decisions for you and your team.
Here is how you get a seat at the table. Build credibility, not just
as someone who has functional expertise, operational know-how, and
leadership success, but as a leader who understands the overall business
first and the functional responsibilities second. You already have proven
capability and competence. And, you have the formula for strategic lead-
ership: It starts with seeing the big picture, crossing borders and engaging
in dialogue, building partnerships, and defining the third win. Next you
learn how the business makes money, apply it to your part of the business,
and stay engaged in a business-wide dialogue, even if you have to invite
yourself to the table. There’s just one more piece.

Thinking With the Whole Brain: An Integrated

Strategic leadership is a game unlike what most experience. The good
news is that you have the unique capabilities to play the game effectively
and to win. Since the field of play is always shifting, someone has to be on
constant lookout for the broader landscape. This is where the capability
of strategic thinking is needed. The ability to look out to the future and
work back to the present, to anticipate what’s next, and determine a path
forward, is critical. Unfortunately, winning is not entirely clear or within
your control since the broader marketplace decides who wins. But you
know that already. You’ve integrated the process of customer dialogue into
how you and your organization do business. You know what it means to
walk in your customer’s shoes, even those of the paying customer, because
you engage them in routine heart-to-heart discussions.

Do you implement everything your customers tell you they need? No.
You use that knowledge as input into formulating a strategic direction, to
understand the why behind the what. This is where another capability,
business acumen, kicks in. Understanding the business and how the business
makes money are factored into the game plan. Customers can tell you they
want you to manufacture a particular product and put their label on it.
Sounds good, but can you make money at it? R&D can create several prod-
ucts, but will customers buy them? These are the types of situations where
business acumen and the sorting mechanism of strategy play a critical role.

Business Savvy: The Combination of Experience, Strategic

Thinking, and Business Acumen

Looking at a different game with shifting boundaries, changing rules,

and diverse ways to win is confusing, if not chaotic. Enter the need for
another capability, business savvy. Being business savvy is a seasoned abil-
ity to understand the current reality and confidently move to the future.
It engages both logic and emotion, a mindset created through the contin-
uous layering of experience and insight. Business savvy is the combina-
tion of on-the-field experience and the study of game films that enables
Tom Brady to change a play at the line of scrimmage for a touchdown
pass. It’s how Jonah Lehrer describes Michael Binger, a Stanford particle
physicist and professional poker player, when Binger says that playing
poker is solving a mystery, not solving a set of math problems.33 It is a mix
of strategic thinking and business acumen, and it yields a competence and
confidence that neither creates on its own. Being business savvy is what
gives strategic leadership its edge—part logic, part intuition. It requires
deliberate reflection and creative intent, conscious thought about what
you see and what it means, then filed away in unconscious memory. Busi-
ness savvy is confidence and experience, faith and know-how, gut and
logic all rolled into one.
Working at a strategic level is a potent combination of seeing the big-
ger picture, engaging with customers about what is important to them,
partnering with other organizations to achieve success, and understand-
ing how the business creates value and what it needs to do for long-term
economic viability. Strategic leadership is not reserved just for senior-level

executives. It is the type of leadership needed throughout the enterprise,

leadership that focuses on the longer term with both the confidence and
fear that nothing lasts forever. Keep in mind that the development of
strategic leadership does not happen overnight. It is a deliberate process
that requires a unique way of looking at the world and spending time on
the right things today that will be critical for tomorrow.

Working at a Strategic Level

Self-Assessment and Action Planning Activity

A. Following are a series of statements related to elements of strategic

knowledge, skills, and behaviors. Rate yourself based on the following
1. Not at all
2. Rarely
3. Sometimes
4. Often
5. Continuously

To what extent do I:

Working at a strategic level My rating

Strategic thinker
1. Consciously take the time to reflect and ask myself how I’m
thinking through an issue, what I’ve learned from a particular sit-
uation, what insight I’ve gained, and what it means for the future
2. Think not only about what I see as important in the future but
also think backwards from that point to chart a course for how to
get from here to there
3. Engage colleagues in free-wheeling discussions of ideas and future
possibilities; challenge each other to think broadly and without
Walks in the customer’s shoes
4. Know who pays the bills and make sure everyone in the orga-
nization realizes that the focus on the customer is essential for
economic survival

5. Involve all levels of the organization in a systematic process to

understand customer needs through ongoing customer dialogue
and discussion
6. Use the knowledge and understanding of the customer to
­improve processes and develop new products and services
Business partner and strategist

7. Partner by positioning the organization to deliver value-added

services and products
8. Learn the business partner’s business and proactively provide
counsel to improve the partner’s performance and develop
future capabilities
9. Use knowledge and expertise from own organization to assess
the potential impact of a major change/trend on the partner
relationship, e.g., competitive threat or regulatory change
Business savvy
10. See the big picture for the business: think broadly, extrapolate
from present to future trends, understand interdependencies,
and develop a road map for how to reach the desired state
11. Study market trends and use an intimate knowledge of the busi-
ness and its core competencies to determine how the organiza-
tion competes successfully for the long term
12. Know how the business derives profitability, what is required
for long-term economic viability, and has the battle scars to
prove it

B. Summarize your ratings in the following:

Current strengths Current areas for improvement
1. 1.

2. 2.

3. 3.

C. Next steps:
Pick one area for improvement, just one. Look at it closely and decide
what you need to do and what are the steps needed to make that improve-
ment. If this is truly important to you, then start this process today. Cre-
ate a SMART goal, determine the desired impact, the activities needed,
and how you will measure your success. Make a public commitment by
sharing this with three people.

Desired Measure of
SMART goal impact Development activities success

Chapter Summary
Mentoré leadership stage comparisons

Expertise stage Credibility Alignment & Strategy stage

stage execution stage
What Who How Why
Track record Image & reputation Coaching & Seeing the bigger
leading by example picture
Knowledge & Communication & Decision making, Insights applied to
experience influence prioritization & the business
problem resolution
Depth Breadth Agility Calculated risk
Student of Student of people Student of the Student of the
knowledge organization business
Native intelligence Emotional Systems thinking Strategic thinking
How smart you are How you deliver How to maximize How to work as a
value to others in operational partner & strategist
the organization efficiencies to the business
Knowing your Knowing your Knowing your Knowing your
subject matter audience organization business

Taking Stock

• Strategic leadership looks up and out from the current

organizational system to understand what’s happening in the
outside world.
• Strategic leadership asks the why behind the what: Why are
we doing what we’re doing?
• What differentiates strategic leadership from any other
stage of development is important changes in mindset and
perspective more so than just behavior.

• Leadership at this level is about the ability to think

strategically, to see the big picture, regardless of where you sit
in the organization. Strategic thinking
{{ begins with a realization that the future begins in the
present. This is the all-important element of insight;
{{ is nonlinear in the sense that it sees more than a linear
trajectory from the present to the future. At the same time,
strategic thinking is not random because it builds on the
current conditions and considers how these are transformed
by other forces moving forward;
{{ uses both logic and emotion to fuel learning and insight.
What goes into the brain from observation and analytical
thought pops out as flashes, epiphanies, or aha moments
when you least expect it;
{{ is visual thinking. When someone sees it, he or she can
most likely illustrate it;
{{ links insight with foresight, the ability to use understanding
and study of past experience to predict a future pattern or
trend. It is the ability to see more from less.

• One method for developing strategic thinking is through a

process of anticipation, extrapolation, and translation. This
means using moving beyond the current situation first to
anticipate what’s next, then to extrapolate to a future state,
and to use that as a reference point to translate the actions
required to move forward.
• Thinking strategically, like the competency of curiosity,
embraces the question what if   ? Risk and imagination are
baked into the process, they are not separate disciplines.
• It may seem like strategic thinking is brainstorming on
steroids. Actually, strategic thinking is not open to all ideas.
It has intent. It wants to reach a certain destination, not
meander down a path of unlimited options. It’s creative, but
it’s also logical. There is vision, and the goal is not only to see
it, but to figure out how to get there. That takes commitment
and confidence.

• Strategy is the framework that enables an organization

to allocate resources and make choices, decisions, and trade-
offs based on the vision and forward direction. Strategy is
about differentiation in the marketplace, not operational
• Strategic leadership builds upon the power of dialogue.
Dialogue is a process of engagement and understanding. It is
particularly important as a way to build horizontal alignment
inside an organization, by crossing functional borders and
ultimately connecting to the end customer.
• The value of dialogue with your customers is that it unites
both of you in defining the third win, the win for your
customer’s customer.
• Working as a partner and strategist requires understanding
the business. The expectation is that, regardless of where you
sit in the organization, you are responsible for looking at the
bigger picture for what makes the business profitable and how
money can be made. It is this skill, the business acumen skill,
which helps get you a seat at the table.
• Being business savvy creates unique capabilities. One is
intuition based on a mix of past experience, lessons learned,
and deliberate reflection. That creates razor-sharp know-how
that lies in both
conscious and
Business savvy ∫ Strategic thinking Experiencee
Business acumen
thought. A second
is the ability to push
forward with intent and confidence. Business savvy is potent,
not because it is a competency reserved for senior executives,
but because it makes anyone in a leadership position more
impactful. It creates a win for the organization, a win for the
business, and a win for the customer.

Defying Gravity

The Unique Journey of Technical Experts into

Management Positions or Not
In Chapter 1, I used the term technical expertise broadly to describe
the content-specific and knowledge-based aspect of any job. Here I’m
using the concept of technical experts in two broad categories. One is
where the businesses themselves are technical, such as research labs, bio-
tech organizations, civil engineering companies, IT organizations, large
pharmaceutical companies, or high-tech businesses. The second is with
content-driven technical specialists, such as engineers, information tech-
nologists, scientists, doctors, accountants, or researchers. These groups of
professionals appreciate that leadership requires a different skill set. Two
issues, however, are not always understood: (1) how someone acquires
these skills, and (2) how big a role does ongoing technical competence
play in leadership success? We do know from the competency research
that additional technical competence alone does not create leadership
success, nor will simply learning generic leadership skills give a clear road
map for when, how, and where to apply these additional c­ ompetencies.

The Technical Leader Conundrum

In the early 1990s, I was working with a client who was an up-and-comer
in the software development business. He had asked me to design and
facilitate a leadership training program for their new managers. The com-
pany began as a classic startup of three colleagues with several advanced
degrees and patents under their belts working with a small team of sales
and marketing professionals. At the time I began working with them they

were in growth mode, hiring engineers and promoting people into tech-
nical management positions.
This was not my first time working with people with highly technical
backgrounds, but it is memorable because of a series of conversations I
had with the vice president of software development. A talented engineer,
astute leader, and savvy business person, he was a product of a major
R&D organization with a big business perspective and ample experience.
His challenge was how to apply the important lessons learned to a much
smaller, growing business. As we talked through his staff, he told me that
he found the job of engineering manager the toughest one to staff. Why?
What he told me was that the best engineers do not make the best engi-
neering managers. They have the technical backgrounds, but they do not
necessarily have the leadership skills needed for success in managerial
positions. And particularly with the issue of rapid growth, he knew that
many technical people had been given battlefield promotions for leader-
ship positions that they weren’t prepared for. He understood that his role
was to identify, train, and develop technical managers.
This may not seem like an unusual observation—that the best engi-
neers are not necessarily the best engineering managers. The research into
leadership effectiveness continues to show that hiring the best and the
brightest does not create leadership success, and that “the demonstration
of nontechnical competencies continues to differentiate outstanding lead-
ership and create the top-performing climates.”1 However, my firsthand
observation is that the continuing practice of selecting the best individual
contributor for a management position in technical organizations is alive
and well. It seems as much an issue of practicality and expediency as
opposed to an underappreciation of emotional intelligence and the skill
sets related to credibility. Just hire or promote the best engineers because
they have the knowledge and experience. They know what to do, so they
can tell other people what to do. It is not that difficult, really. And if there
is anything they need to learn, they will pick it up along the way. Their
best teacher is osmosis. Their best learning environment is the school of
hard knocks–trial by ordeal, 21st century style.
The VP of software development understood what he had to do.
Without his insight, this situation had all the earmarks of a run and gun,
pacesetting, potentially command and control environment.2 It is the

cross-country example revisited. It is as if the entire organization lines up

at the starting line for the race. When the gun is fired, everyone takes off,
running just as hard as they can for as long as they can until they reach
the finish line. Where are the managers in this scenario? They are out there
running in the field as well. They are most likely in the front of the pack
since they are the best. And what is their role in the preparation and per-
formance of their teams? Most likely, they huddled with their particular
group just before the start of the race, told them to run hard, run fast, and
finish strong. When the race is over, the manager looks at how each person
performed, finds the people whose times are not what was expected, sees
what the problems are, tells them to do better next time, and calls it a day,
or most likely goes back to the office to do more work.
You may be thinking that taking the best performer and promoting
that person to a manager position is not confined to the technical world.
You are right about that. I have seen it firsthand in sales organizations,
for example.3 In technical environments, however, the issue of selecting
leaders is trickier. In part, the issue arises out of the definition of technical
leadership itself. Does it mean leadership of the technical specialty, or is
it leadership of the people in that technical specialty? What makes the
answer difficult is what I describe as technical credibility, the role tech-
nical expertise can play in terms of credibility for the technical manager.
Because technical knowledge and expertise are highly valued in organiza-
tions like software engineering, they play a role in managerial success. In
many types of organizations, leaders are not expected to know everything
that their team members know. However, in many technical organiza-
tions, they are expected to know everything.
For technical leaders, success is not a choice of either technical exper-
tise or leadership capability. Both are expected, but it’s important to
understand what the combination of these two parts would look like. It’s
easier to determine the level of technical expertise given an emphasis on
knowledge, experience, and mastery. The tougher issue is knowing what
other skills and competencies—the so-called soft skills—are needed. This
is where I have used the stages and competencies in the Mentoré leader-
ship model successfully. The concept of a base that includes both expertise
and credibility makes the point that both skill sets are required. For some
people, credibility, the focus on the who not the what, is a new concept.

For others, there is understanding, but there is ongoing need for practic-
ing and reinforcing the credibility skills and mindset. Such is the process
for leadership development.
To think that moving into technical leadership positions is a linear
process facilitated by adopting a laundry list of leadership behaviors is
simplistic. Moving into those positions is still an evolutionary process.
Because the role of technical expertise is critical to success in techni-
cal organizations, the road to strategic leadership positions, whether as
managers of people or as high-level individual contributors, is a series of
progressions. While the stages align to the Mentoré model, the mesh of
technical and nontechnical skills requires a somewhat different devel-
opment process, one in which both elements are needed to acclimate
and ascend into positions that have a greater impact on organizational

The Types of Technical Leadership Positions

Earlier I proposed what I see as the skill and competency requirements for
a subject matter expert, an SME. My experience, similar to that in the Bell
Labs study, is that both technical mastery and credibility are needed for
SME success.4 It is one thing to have the knowledge and experience; it is
another thing to have the knowledge and experience plus the value others
derive from your performance. It is what Goleman describes as “techies
with passion and intuition.”5 I call them “right-brain engineers.” The reason
for restating this point is to clarify that the rites of passage for technical
leaders, similar to that of their nontechnical counterparts, must be through
these first two stages. It is the grounding needed to move forward in your
Beyond the credibility stage in technical organizations, however, it is
not unusual to see the road for career choice fork in two directions:

1. The managerial track

The managerial track is similar to what you might except in any
organization, moving from individual contributor, to a team lead,
then to supervisor, manager, director, and executive positions. Obvi-
ously, organizations have different ways to slice these jobs. Typically,

each movement up leads to a broader scope of responsibilities across

the functional organization and across the business.
The managerial track for a technical professional follows the same
stage movement through the Mentoré model:

a.  Grounding yourself in technical mastery in the expertise stage.

b. Increasing your personal value to the organization and potentially
attaining SME status through the credibility stage.
c. Crossing into the business and managing through others in the
alignment and execution stage.
d.  Taking a broader role for running the business in the strategy stage.

However, we know that the picture is colored by how much techni-

cal expertise is required as one moves into and through the manage-
ment ranks. In those organizations where the best performers are
promoted into management positions, one sees a high level of tech-
nical expertise and emphasis on technical credibility for senior lead-
ers. However, in those cases, it is hard to know if that is by intent
or default. It is not always clear how much thought and planning
are given to the definition of job success for mid- to senior-level
management positions. Hopefully, these ranks are filled with lead-
ers who have the nontechnical competencies because we know that
these skills and behaviors contribute to outstanding performance.6
2. The technical track
The second career path is for the technical professionals who want to
spend their careers more deeply involved in their technical special-
ties as opposed to managing others. Many organizations, especially
those in technical fields, have such a career ladder.7 For the pro-
fessional moving up the technical ladder, we know that credibility
and emotional intelligence are critical. However, the argument for
emotional intelligence is not an argument against more technical
expertise. The issue of what and how much technical expertise is
needed should be based on what the business requires. This happens
by drilling down on core competencies and competitive differentia-
tion to define the technical skills and competencies that the business
requires, which subsequently determines what individual technical
capabilities to cultivate.

Technical Track Professionals and Organizational Capacity

Technical track professionals also have responsibilities in the two higher-

level stages, alignment and execution and strategy. Here the issue is a
familiar one of building organization capacity. There is the skill set needed
to work through others that, for technical professionals, most often occurs
when they lead or join major cross-functional initiatives or projects. The
competencies related to influence without formal authority, getting buy
in, and selling ideas across an organization are all important. So is the
competency for leading by example. However, without the responsibility
of direct reports, there is less formal emphasis on talent development. The
exception here is the role the technical professional can play as a teacher
for his or her technical specialty. For the technical track professional, the
roll-up of these competencies is the knowledge and insight of what it
takes to execute through others. It’s the seasoning that the technical pro-
fessionals develop for broad-based implementation, even though they are
not formally responsible on a daily basis for managing others.
There are, however, two other expectations for technical track profes-
sionals in terms of building capacity. One is the expectation of broadening
their personal experience through cross-functional initiatives. This could
be realized by applying current knowledge to new situations, acquiring
new knowledge, or working in completely new areas of the organization.
In other words, there is an expected expansion of the technical base,
sometimes opportunistic, but always with the intent to build a personal
reservoir of applied knowledge and experience.
A second expectation is an understanding of the business and how
technical expertise plays a role in building additional capability. I would
argue that as technical track professionals move into the higher stages of
the organization, they are expected to acquire a broader understanding of
the business context in which they work. For example, I worked with a
large client who had recently contracted out his entire manufacturing
operations. I was talking to a director for a design engineering group and
asked him what his team did. He told me a classic before-and-after story.
Before contract manufacturing, their job was to create product proto-
types. After contract manufacturing, there job was to figure out how to
take a dollar out of the manufacturing costs. What this illustrates is the

application of technical expertise to the business, not simply expanding

technical knowledge. He said it was a whole new experience for both him
and the team.
If one of the outcomes of strategic lead-
ership is becoming business savvy, then Technical savvy
what does this look like for the technical
track professionals? It’s tempting to say that
it is tech savvy, but it seems that expression
is already taken, generally used to mean Technical credibility
that someone is knowledgeable about how
technology works. The technical track pro-
fessionals I’m describing understand the
business and the broad implications of their experience. Once they cross
into the higher stages of leadership development, their mission is becom-
ing technical savvy, the integration of broad-based technical expertise with
business acumen, the understanding of the business, and how the busi-
ness makes money. These individuals are technical resources up and down
the organization who have the skills and experience to work as strategists
to the business, not just as high-level functional specialists.

Making the Shift

The process for leadership development, like so many advancements in
education and science in the past 50 years, continues to evolve. Today we
have a better understanding of how to train and develop leaders based on
behaviors that are indicative of the knowledge, skills, traits, and charac-
teristics of the best. We see a growing interest in talent development and
the implications for leadership and leadership development. We study the
impact of emotional intelligence and being business savvy on leadership
effectiveness. And we build on the firsthand observations of practitioners
in the field who work to develop leaders at a ground level every day.
One such practitioner is Dr. Robert Hewes. Bob is a senior partner at
Camden Consulting Group, an executive coaching and leadership devel-
opment firm in Boston. He is also one of the best leadership coaches I
know. Bob holds a doctorate in engineering science from Harvard Univer-
sity, and master of science and bachelor of science degrees from University

of New Hampshire. The way I see it is that a PhD and executive coach
combination yields either a right-brain engineer, a left-brain coach, or a
whole-brain expert; take your pick. Since 2010, he and I have worked
together to create and facilitate a leadership development program based
on the Mentoré model. The target population is technical experts who are
in or moving into leadership roles. The nine-month program is a com-
bination of workshops, peer group interactions, assessments, and one-
on-one coaching focused on the application of leadership behaviors for
on-the-job effectiveness.8
Since Bob has coached many technical professionals and people
within technical organizations, he has a perspective on how the concept
of leader evolution resonates with his clients. In interviewing Bob for
this book, I asked him what he thinks is the most important insight.
The way he often describes the leadership development process based on
the Mentoré model is about making the shift. Bob describes how some
individuals tend to bump up against a ceiling created by their technical
expertise. To understand that they can expand their individual effective-
ness by looking at credibility is a way to eliminate that barrier. “When I
talk about making the shift from expertise to credibility,” Bob describes,
“everyone gets this one, literally everyone.” Part of the issue, he explains,
is that some people miss the fact that credibility plays a role in their abil-
ity to manage, lead, and execute effectively. Bob explains that it is not
a matter of doing it alone or being the smartest in the room anymore
that makes a difference. It is about making the shift, from knowing the
answer to getting people to believe in you. The insight that people begin
to appreciate is that “who I’m working with is as important as what I’m
working on.”9
Another important element that Bob describes is having a frame-
work, a road map that enables leaders to understand where they are in
terms of their development and where they are headed. Bob adds, “The
notion of growth is not the same as making a shift. People know that
there’s something (they need to do) differently.” What this means is that
it takes a deliberate change in perspective and mindset to grasp what is
needed, not just adopting a single skill like delegation or giving feedback
or running an effective meeting. The difference is that the shift requires a
“constellation of competencies and knowing where to land.” In the case

of credibility, for example, it is how to involve others. As people start to

understand why that’s important, they continue to use that insight. As
Bob describes, “Once you cross over, you never go back.”10

Making a Choice

A final point that Dr. Hewes makes is that technical professionals need
to make a choice about making the shift. With a model of the stages in
leader evolution, they can clearly see the expectations and make a deci-
sion about what are their interests and where they want to head in their
careers. On this point, he is emphatic, “I believe that this should be a
choice.” In other words, not everyone in a technical field should aspire for
a management position.11 Making the shift is also about making a choice.

Chapter Summary
Taking Stock

• Technical professions and technical organizations place a high

value on knowledge and experience, and this creates a unique
challenge for leadership selection.
• What makes technical leadership positions unique is the
extent to which credibility is attached to technical expertise.
This technical credibility factor casts a big shadow and appears
to loom large in the leadership selection process.
• Nonetheless, the research into leadership effectiveness is
compelling: Emotional intelligence is required, even in
technical environments. It seems that the rites of passage
for what Goleman describes as “techies with passion and
intuition” and I describe as “right-brain engineers” are
through the credibility stage of the Mentoré model.12
• Technical organizations often create a dual career path with
management and nonmanagement or technical professional

• The management track is similar to what you would expect

to see in nontechnical organizations: Alignment and

execution focus on building capacity through team and

team member development; strategic leadership focuses on
developing a broader knowledge of the business.
• The technical professional track, however, is different.
The expectation of building organizational capacity is
through increased capability of the technical professional.
This happens by flying solo. However, it is also built in
the context of working on cross-functional or large-scale
change initiatives where technical depth and breadth are
mutually beneficial outcomes for the individual and the
business. There is also the expectation for the technical
professional to build capacity by teaching others. From
the strategic leadership perspective, the expectation is one
of becoming technical savvy, a combination of technical
experience and business acumen. In other words, it’s the
application of the technical knowledge to how the business
is successful now and moving forward.
• Making the shift means a change in mindset, moving from
technical expertise to credibility, from “what I’m working
on, to who I’m working with.” Making the shift also refers to
adopting a constellation of competencies as opposed to a skill-
by-skill approach to leadership development.

As Mr. Swofford, my eighth grade and The mentoré leadership
high-school math teacher, would say, “It’s competency model

time to put away your book, take out paper

and pencil, and answer a few questions.” and Strategy
I still remember what it was like when execution

I heard those words. You could cut the

dread in the room with a knife. You see, Mr.
Credibility Expertise
Swofford never told us in advance when we
were having a test—not once in five years.
He was a brilliant and wonderful
man, an incredible teacher, and he If you don’t know where you are
taught the value of continuously going, you’ll end up someplace else.
preparing to end up in the right Lawrence Peter Berra
Now it is your turn. Think about where you are and where you are
headed by answering these questions:

1. Who owns your development as a leader? Provide a rationale.

2. Where are you right now in your own leadership evolution? Depend-
ing on where you are, what is or has been the hardest shift or transi-
tion? Say more.
3. To what extent are you demonstrating the behaviors, thought pro-
cess, and perspective that define success in your particular develop-
ment stage and position? Give three examples.
4. To what extent are you operating at the right level, meaning that you
are maximizing your ability to impact and effectively lead your team,
your organization, and your part of the business? What helps you in
this pursuit? What are the obstacles that you face?

5. If you are not where you need to be, what are the steps needed to
move you in the right direction? Create a SMART goal with the
action steps that support it. Include the desired impact and measures
of success.
For extra credit:

What will you do moving forward that will enable you to contin-
uously get smarter, particularly as it relates to your effectiveness as
a leader? Be specific.

OK, pencils down. Now that you have had an opportunity to think
through these questions, let us go back and review the major concepts
together. For starters, the basic premise throughout this discussion is the
focus on leadership behavior—how, when, where, and why changes in
behavior are needed. At some points it is about acquiring new behaviors;
at other times, it is about letting go. We know that some behaviors are
easily trained, like how to run an effective meeting; some have to be devel-
oped over time, like elevating team performance; and some that are tied
closer to aptitude and personality characteristics, like moral courage, are
not easily trained and are tougher to develop. Such differences reflect the
amount of effort that you need to acquire and use these behaviors effec-
tively. Your development as a leader,
therefore, requires intent, practice,
Leaders are visionaries with a application, and feedback. You own
poorly developed sense of fear and your professional development. Even
no concept of the odds against them. if you have an organization or man-
Robert Jarvick ager that believes in you, you still
must drive the process.
Moving into leadership positions is the ability to defy gravity. This
applies across the board, not just to those individuals in technical pro-
fessions. The years of schooling and value placed on being smart keep us
grounded, or so we think. There is a sense of security and control that
comes with expertise. But then there’s the need to understand people and
work through others who may not share the same standards, let alone
interests, that we have. Add in the calculus of change in today’s world,
and for good measure, throw in the uncertainty about the future. And
CODA 155

what is often the tendency? To let gravity take over and pull us back into
expertise, which means finding the answer, being right, and retreating to
an area where we feel we are in control. Effective leadership is the abil-
ity to demonstrate confidence and move forward in a less-than-button-
downed world. Leadership is like running a marathon; it’s a race against
slowing down.1
Effective leadership development is not simply trying to learn a list of
behaviors on a competency-by-competency basis. Such a list encapsulates
a desired skill set, but it does not provide a context or a way to make
these skills stick. In the words of Dr. Hewes, the story is better told by
the need to make the shift, to look at constellations rather than individual
behaviors. It is better to understand how certain behaviors and thought
processes work together, then practice and apply them, and learn from
the experience. It’s movement into a different stage with a different focus,
mindset, and skills. It is assimilation followed by accommodation over

Thinking About Thinking

If leadership development is to succeed, a change in thinking and per-
spective must also accompany certain critical changes in behavior. For
example, moving into the alignment and execution stage requires devel-
oping the skill set to accomplish work through others, but it also requires
a conscious thought process for letting go certain responsibilities by dele-
gating and developing the team’s capability. Moving into a strategic lead-
ership position requires a big picture and future perspective as well as the
skills associated with creating partnerships or deploying strategy.
The term metacognition, often described as thinking about think-
ing, is a principle discussed in the educational and psychological fields
about an individual’s capability to learn.2 We have discussed how meta-
cognition is also applicable for leadership, particularly as someone enters
a new stage of development. The change in mindset is the euphemistic
paradigm shift. All this sounds like a riddle, thinking about thinking and
deliberate reflection. But it is an important riddle. A change in thought
process changes what you see, how you think through a situation, and
how you make judgments and decisions.

Throughout the evolution of leadership, metacognition is important

for several reasons:

• It unleashes the transformative power of discernment and

curiosity, two of the original building blocks needed for
expertise. Discernment is the thought-provoking side, the
never-ending need to understand what and why. Curiosity is
the itch, the playful side that also likes why but dares ask what
if, even as the doors are closing on the situation or decision.
What is important is how they evolve together throughout
the leadership development process, from analytical
thinking and needing to understand what’s inside the box,
to understanding people and building credibility, to systems
thinking and the press-box view needed for organizational
alignment, to strategic thinking, seeing the bigger picture,
engaging both risk taking and imagination in the process, and
blowing up the box and seeing the same elements in vastly
different ways for different outcomes in the future. It may not
qualify as chaos theory, but it’s a close approximation.
• Metacognition speaks to the importance of learning,
the ability to look beyond the obvious, and question the
assumptions that underlie an action or decision.3
• It pushes toward mastery and accepts that it’s always possible
to get better.
• It opens the door to think broadly and make informed
judgments, to learn from both failure and success.
• It keeps you in shape mentally and emotionally. It’s as Lehrer
describes—“the conscious thought process that regulates
• Metacognition enables you to make better decisions. Lehrer

Whenever you make a decision, be aware of the kind of deci-

sion you are making and the kind of that process it requires.
It doesn’t matter if you’re choosing between wide receivers or
political candidates. You might be playing poker or assessing
CODA 157

the results of a television focus group. The best way to make

sure that you are using your brain properly is to study your
brain at work, to listen to the argument inside your head. Why
is thinking about thinking so important? First, it helps you
steer clear of stupid errors . . . . There is no secret recipe for
decision-making. There is only vigilance, the commitment to
avoiding those errors that can be avoided. Of course, even the
most attentive and self-aware minds will still make mistakes.
Tom Brady, after the perfect season of 2008, played poorly in
the Super Bowl . . . . But the best decision makers don’t despair.
Instead, they become students of error, determined to learn
from what went wrong.5

• M
 etacognition is the ability to convert insight into foresight, to
see more from less, to deconstruct the current reality into pixels
that are reconstructed into a vision of the future and a path for
moving forward.

How metacognition relates to effective leadership is yet again the need to

engage the whole brain in the development process. Acquiring, eliminat-
ing, and changing behavior are accompanied by the thought process for
what you do, how you do it, and why you do it. This is not to say that
every action requires deliberate reflection before acting. It is, however, to
suggest that the change sticks because the thought process and behavior
constantly talk to each other. The greater the understanding that under-
lies the behavior, the greater the opportunity to move the behavior and
thinking process in the same direction.
What makes a great leader is a repertoire of critical behaviors and
thought processes with the flexibility to engage with people, tasks, and
business, all in the pursuit of organizational success. On a personal level,
success is the use of the right behavior at the right time for the right pur-
pose for a desired outcome.
Some people are predisposed to leadership, the so-called natural
leaders who have the genetic wiring to be successful. However, the vast
majority of effective leaders are made. Since the mid-20th century, the
understanding of leadership success has been put under an electron micro-

scope to isolate effective behaviors, skill sets, and competencies. And with
the studies of researchers like Goleman,6 Davidson,7 and Lehrer,8 there
is increasing interest in the relationship of brain science with types of
intelligence and leadership effectiveness. As this understanding increases,
the process for developing effective leaders will continue to expand into
new territory.
For now, the need for effective leadership could not be greater. The
bombardment of information, the technological changes in communica-
tion that are most likely rewiring our brains, the fact that many people
lose control of their schedules the minute they walk into their offices,
the sheer volume of distractions—all of these conditions speak to the
need to step up into leadership roles with or without the formal titles.
But the biggest challenge I see is the one that exists inside your head.
It’s  not about being smart, it’s about getting smart. It also means being
clever and becoming savvy. It is not just that you are knowledgeable, it
is that you understand what makes people tick, organizations effective,
and the business profitable.
The evolution of successful leadership is the ability to lead change
and feel comfortable in not having all the answers, much less the right
answer. The proliferation of responsibilities inside a highly connected yet
fragmented world means that the need to influence the way that others
think and feel to the point they take responsible and decisive action will
only intensify. The more strategic the leadership, the broader your per-
sonal impact and the greater the value you bring to organizational success.
1. Leeson (2010).
2. Amato (2013).
3. Amato (2013).
4. Goleman (1998).

Chapter 1
1. Kotter (1999).
2. Yukl (2012).
3. Carlyle (2011). Carlyle’s original essay was published on May 5, 1840.
4. Allport (1937).
5. Leadership Theories—In Chronological Order. Retrieved February 18, 2014,
6. Leadership Theories (2014).
7. Leadership Theories (2014).
8. Leadership Theories (2014).
9. Blake and Mouton (1972).
10. Hersey and Blanchard (2012).
11. Bass (2006).
12. Burns (1985).
13. McClelland (1973).
14. Boyatzis (1982).
15. Spencer (1993).
16. Goleman (1995).
17. McClelland (1973).
18. Goleman (2005).
19. Knowles (1984).
20. Crain (1985), pp. 118–136.
21. Crain (1985).
22. Crain (1985).
23. Herzberg (1959).
24. Maslow (1954).
25. David McClelland, often described as the founder of this movement, cre-
ated a bit of a stir with a 1973 paper in which he said that competence, not
IQ, was a better predictor of job success. See McClelland (1973).

26. McClelland (1973).

27. Mentoré is the name of my consulting practice. Mentoré is Italian for
28. Blake and Mouton (1972); Hersey and Blanchard (2012).
29. This refers to the body of work from the research of Boyatzis (1982), Spencer
(1993), and Goleman (1995).
30. Burns (1985); Bass (2006).
31. The title that Jay Conger uses for his article in Harvard Business Review
32. Charan (2006).

Chapter 2
1. Sir Francis Bacon was said to have made this statement. See http:// Some also know this as their
high-school motto.
2. Maslow (1954).
3. Herzberg (1959).
4. McClelland (1961); McClelland (1987).
5. McClelland and Burnham (2003).
6. McClelland (1987).
7. McClelland (1987).
8. Gardner (1983).
9. Gardner (1983), p. xv.
10. Gardner (2008), p. xv.
11. Gardner (2008), pp. xiii–xv.
12. Argyris and Shon (1974).
13. Argyris and Shon (1974).
14. Pink (2005).
15. Pink (2005), pp. 51–52.
16. Pink (2005), pp. 61–65.
17. For the record, I made it, crossed the finish line in 3:05, and ended my short
marathon career on a high note.
18. One of the important characteristics Collins describes of the Level 5 lead-
ers in “good to great” companies is their will. He comments, “these leaders
are fanatically driven, infected with an incurable need to produce sustained
results . . . . Level 5 leaders display workmanlike diligence—more plow horse
than show horse.” Collins (2001), p. 39. I would add that at the stage of
expertise, leaders are “plow horses in training.”
19. Argyris and Shon (1974).
20. Gardner (2008).

21. Pink (2005).

22. The “Odd Couple” is a reference to the Neil Simon Broadway play that
opened in 1965 and later became both a movie and television series. It is a
story of how two divorced men, Felix Unger who is neat and tidy, and Oscar
Madison who is casual and sloppy, live together in a New York apartment.
23. Carol Dweck uses a similar line of reasoning in her description of mastery
in which she describes the difference between a fixed mindset and growth
mindset. Additional information can be found in Pink (2009), pp. 118–
120, pp. 199–200; Dweck (1999).
24. According to the American Institute of CPAs, “All CPA candidates must pass
the Uniform CPA Examination to qualify for a CPA certificate and license
(i.e., permit to practice) to practice public accounting.” From their website
25. Examples of HR certifications and their requirements can be found on the
HR Certification website:
26. Pink (2009), p. 109.
27. Pink (2009), pp. 124–125.
28. Pink (2009), pp. 118–120; Dweck (1999).
29. Pink (2009), pp. 121–122.
30. Colvin (2010), pp. 71–72.

Chapter 3
1. Goleman (1998).
2. Goleman (1998), pp. 15–17.
3. Goleman (1998).
4. Boyatzis (1982).
5. Spencer (1993).
6. Zenger and Folkman (2002), p. 88.
7. Goleman (1998), pp. 33–38.
8. Goleman (1998), pp. 133–136.
9. Conger (1998).
10. Bacon (2011), p. 114.
11. Bennis (1989).
12. Kouses and Posner (2007).
13. Covey (1989).
14. Zenger (2002), pp. 196–197.
15. Peters and Waterman (1982).
16. Uzzi and Dunlap (December, 2005).
17. Zenger (2002), pp. 196–197.

18. Drucker (2001), p. 261.

19. Drucker (2001), pp. 261–267.
20. Drucker (2001), p. 267.
21. I created FLÉR as an acronym to use with clients in workshops: focus, listen,
engage, restate.
22. Pink (2005), p. 115.
23. I took the liberty of adding an accent to Éngage.
24. Covey (1989).
25. Bacon (2011), p. 70. In this section, Bacon quotes the work of Robert Cial-
26. Bacon (2011), p. 70.
27. Pink (2012) pp. 20–21.
28. Pink (2012), pp. 28–29.
29. Cialdini (1993).
30. Bacon (2011).
31. Goleman (1998).
32. Goleman (1998), pp. 133–134.
33. Mehrabian (1971).
34. Goleman (1998), pp. 145–146.
35. Covey (1989).
36. Conger (1993).
37. This is the Merriam-Webster definition for a “suck up”: http://www.mer-
38. Peter(1969).
39. Goleman (1998), p. 42.
40. Zenger (2002).
41. Kelley (1993).
42. Zenger (2002), p. 183.
43. Kelley (1993).
44. Kelley (1993).

Chapter 4
1. “Iacta alia est” is Latin for the “die is cast.” For more information, consult
the following:
2. Bierman (2013).
3. Bolman and Deal (2008), p. 269.
4. Bolman and Deal (2008).
5. Bolman and Deal (2008).
6. Collins (2001). Collins summarizes the findings on pp. 12–13. The expres-
sions and characterization in quotes are the author’s own descriptions.

7. Collins (2001).
8. Collins (2001).
9. Collins (2001), p. 7.
10. Bossidy and Charan (2002), pp. 98–99.
11. Spreier et al. (2006).
12. Spreier et al. (2006).
13. Aronson (2014).
14. Smith (2001).
15. Robbins and Judge (2011), p. 489.
16. PMI Standards Committee (2010).
17. Phillips (1983).
18. Marshak. (2005). 
19. Kotter (2011).
20. The movie Apollo 13, directed by Ron Howard, came out in 1995. Although
it does not appear to have been a direct quote at the actual time of the
mission, the line was given to the character Gene Kranz, the NASA flight
director. For more information, consult the webpage: http://www.spaceacts.
21. Kotter (1995).
22. Conner (1993). Conner was the first to use the term “burning platform” to
refer to the needs that organizations had to deal with the introduction of
new technology.
23. Kotter (2008), p. 15.
24. Collins (2011), p. 24.
25. In Kotter (2008), p. 13, Kotter describes the problems inherent with under-
communication, particularly with the people who need to buy in.
26. Piaget identified assimilation and accommodation as two important pro-
cesses in the field of cognitive development. According to Piaget, assimilation
uses the same “schema” or thought process to integrate new information. In
accommodation, the “schema” changes in order to “accommodate” a dif-
ferent way of thinking. There are numerous sources about Piaget as well as
the number of books that he wrote. For more information consult Mussen,
Handbook of Child Psychology (1983).
27. Kotter (2008).
28. Doyle and Smith (2001); Blake and Mouton (1972); Hersey and Blanchard
29. Doyle and Smith (2001).
30. Spreier et al. (2006).
31. Patterson (2009).
32. Buckingham (2001).
33. Buckingham (2001), pp. 25–29.

34. There are several tools available for this purpose, such as the Strengths Finder
assessment developed by the Gallup organization.
35. Buckingham (2001).
36. There are several references to the Carolina-Duke rivalry. Go to the follow-
ing webpage for more information:
37. Blythe (2006).
38. Colvin (2010). Colvin bases his argument on research conducted by Erics-
son (1993), “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert
39. Colvin (2010), p. 63.
40. Colvin (2010), pp. 66–71.
41. Colvin (2010), pp. 84–104.
42. Colvin (2010), pp. 126–144.
43. Goleman (1998), pp. 108–109. Goleman describes the concept of presence
as being self-aware and in the moment. I have tied this concept with what it
takes to lead by example.
44. Belasco and Stayer (1993).
45. Belasco and Stayer (1993), pp. 35–37.
46. Collins (2001).

Chapter 5
1. The “2000 year old man” is a comedy routine created by Carl Reiner and
Mel Brooks. The several routines were made into an album originally
released in 1960 as World-Pacific #1401. It was reissued as Capitol #1529
in 1961. More recently, see Carl Reiner & Mel Brooks: The Complete 2000
Year Old Man (Los Angeles, CA: Rhino Records), 1994. The sketch with
Phil is on disc 4.
2. Liedtka (1998).
3. Mintzberg (1994).
4. Nasi (1991).
5. Hamel and Prahalad (1994).
6. Liedtka (1998), p. 121.
7. Liedtka (1998).
8. Liedtka (1998), p. 122.
9. Sanders (1998).
10. Neil Armstrong’s famous quote when he landed on the moon is, “This is one
small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” There is a debate whether
“a” was actually part of his quote. For more information, see http://www.

11. Sanders (1998), pp. 58–59. The figure, known as the Lorenz attractor,
is called the butterfly effect because of its shape. Also, Lorenz described
the phenomenon in a paper delivered to the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, December 29, 1972, entitled, Predictability: Does
the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?
12. Sanders (1998).
13. Sanders (1998). p. 93.
14. Sanders (1998).
15. Sanders (1998), p. 52.
16. Sanders (1998), p. 60.
17. Gladwell (2005). The phrase “the power of thinking without thinking” is part
of the book title for Blink.
18. Gladwell (2005), pp. 176–184.
19. Definition taken from The url is
20. Vogelstein (2013).
21. Liedtka (1998).
22. Horwath, (2011), p. 5.
23. Horwath, (2011), pp. 17–19.
24. Horwath (2011), pp. 54–55.
25. Horwath (2011), p. 28.
26. Welch (2005), pp. 165–188.
27. Porter (1996).
28. Porter (1996).
29. Yankelovich (1999).
30. Yankelovich (1999), p. 23.
31. Smith (2001), p. 9.
32. Charan (2006).
33. Lehrer (2009), pp. 230–23.

Chapter 6
1. Goleman (2013), pp. 234–235. A study conducted by the Hay Group
on a sample of 404 leaders analyzed the relationship of nontechnical (EI)
competencies, organizational climate, and leadership styles. According
to Goleman, the study supports the “same hard case for the soft skills”
(p. 235).
2. These observations are similar to the comparisons made in Sprier (2006) and
Goleman (2013, p. 291, footnote 4) regarding the studies of high achievers
who are promoted into leadership positions.
3. Bolden (2011) also reports a similar finding in sales organizations.
4. Kelley (1993).

5. Goleman (1998), p. 45.

6. Spencer (1993), Boyatzis (1982), and Goleman (1998).
7. Tobin (2012).
8. Hewes and Patterson (2012).
9. Interview with Dr. Robert Hewes, April 15, 2014.
10. Hewes (2014). The point made here is that once a person adopts a broader
perspective, in this case thinking about the “who,” you begin to understand
the importance of credibility and the need to understand the people around
you. It becomes a conscious part of your thinking, and you “never go back”
to thinking that expertise alone is enough to build credibility.
11. Hewes (2014).
12. Goleman (1998), p. 45.

Chapter 7
1. It is my recollection that Bill Rogers made this statement about running the
marathon; however, I have not been able to verify that he actually said this.
2. Flavel (1979).
3. Argyris (1974). This is the concept of double-loop learning that Argyris
4. Lehrer (2009).
5. Lehrer (2009).
6. Goleman (2006).
7. Davidson (2012).
8. Lehrer (2009).
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Achievement motive, 30 Coaching, 100–101
The Achieving Society (McClelland, Competency-based process, 14–15
David), 29 Contingency theory, 3
Active listening, 60–62 Credibility
Adaptability, 98 barriers, to building credibility,
Affiliation motive, 30–33 68–70
Alignment and execution commit and deliver, 67–68
action verbs, 82–94 competencies, 50
adaptive organization, 94–100 effective communication, 59–63
business-operational dimension, effective influence, 64
89–93 emotional intelligence, 51–53
communication, 85 and expertise, 72
competencies, 78 influence skills, 64–67
culture, 83–84 Mentoré Leadership Competency
decision making, 84–85 Model, 19
delegation, 107–108 personal and emotional level,
Kotter approach, 95–98 57–59
landscape, cultural-relationship stage, 50
dimension of, 82–83 subject matter expert, 70–71
leadership style self-assessment, 101 trust-building behaviors, 54–57
new leader activity, 80 Critical behaviors, 11
organizational capacity, 77 Critical tasks, 10
perspectives of, 81–82 Culture, 83–89
political landscape, 84–87
prioritization, 86–87 Emotional intelligence, 50–53
problem solving, 86–87 Empathy, 52–53
shapes the landscape, 82 Expertise
stage, 78 achievement motive, 30
talent, 101–109 affiliation motive, 30–33
teacher and coach, 109–111 base of, 35–44
Analytical thinking, 37, 38, 114, 126 competence, 39–42
Argyris, Chris, 33 competencies, 28
curiosity, 38–39
Bacon, Sir Francis, 28 discernment, 37–38
Blake, R.R., 3 initiative, 36–37
Boyatzis, Richard, 4 intrinsic motivator, 42–43
Business savvy, 16–17 power motive, 29–30
stage, 28
Caesar, Julius, 77 thinking and learning, 33–35
Carlyle, Thomas, 2 understanding motivation, 28–32
Change management, 95 The Extraordinary Leader (Zenger and
Chaos theory, 121–122 Folkman), 71
174 Index

Forrester, Jay, 89 Motivation, 8, 16, 28–31

Motivational profile, 31–32
Gardner, Howard, 33 Mouton, J.S., 3
Goleman, Daniel, 4, 50, 70
On Heroes, Hero Worship, and the
High performance organization, Heroic in History (Carlyle,
89–90 Thomas), 2
Horwath, Richard, 126 Organizational capacity, 148–149

“Iacta alea est”-“The die is cast.” Partnership, 22

(Caesar), 77 Peter, Laurence, 70
Peter principle, 70
Job expertise, 15–16 Pink, Daniel, 64
Job Wheel, 11–14 Power motive, 29–30
Professional development, 6, 7, 24,
Kotter, John, 1 56, 111

Leadership development Relationship management, 50–51

behavioral approach, 3–9
history of, 1–3 Sanders, T. Irene, 121
roles and responsibilities, 13 SME. See Subject matter expert
using performance standards, 9–14 Spencer, Lyle, 4
Leadership style, 98–100 Strategic thinking, 120–123
Leadership style self-assessment, 101 Strategy, 21–22
Leadership training, 143 action planning activity, 138–140
Likert, Rensis, 2 anticipation, 124
Lorenz, Edward, 121 business savvy, 137–138
Chaos theory, 121–122
Management, 16, 20 collaboration, 134–135
Managerial track, 146–147 competencies, 118
McClelland, David, 4, 14, 29, 51 cooperation, 134–135
Mentor, 14–24 customer, 128–134
Mentoré Leadership Competency dialogue, 129–134
Model extrapolation, 124–125
alignment and execution, 20–21 intelligent opportunism, 121
business savvy, 16–17 intent-focused, 121
credibility, 19 partnering, 134–135
deriving leadership competencies, self-assessment, 138–140
17–24 stage, 118
effective leadership dimensions, strategic thinking, principles of,
15–17 122–123
job expertise, 15–16 systems perspective, 120
leadership development road map, translation, 126
14–15 Subject matter expert (SME), 70–71
preassessment activity, 22–24 Success, measures of, 10
relationship management, 16–17
strategy, 21–22 Talent development, 102–109
Metacognition, 155, 156 Taylor, Frederick, 51
Index 175

Teamwork, 89 Technical track professionals,

Technical credibility, 145 148–149
Technical leader conundrum, Thinking and learning, 33–35
143–146 Training, 7, 11
Technical leadership, 146–149 Transformational leadership theory, 3
Technical leadership positions,
146–147 Visibility, 55
Technical skills, 10–11
Technical track, 147 Welch, Jack, 127
Jean Phillips and Stan Gully, Rutgers University, Editors

• Culturally Intelligent Leadership: Leading Through Intercultural Interactions by Mai Moua

• Letting People Go: The People-Centered Approach to Firing and Laying Off Employees
by Matt Shlosberg
• The Five Golden Rules of Negotiation by Philippe Korda
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• Conversations About Job Performance: A Communication Perspective on the Appraisal
Process by Michael E. Gordon and Vernon Miller
• How to Coach Individuals, Teams, and Organizations to Master Transformational
Change Surfing Tsunamis by Stephen K. Hacker
• Managing Employee Turnover: Dispelling Myths and Fostering Evidence-Based
Retention Strategies by David Allen and Phil Bryant
• Effective Interviewing and Information Gathering: Proven Tactics to Improve Your
Questioning Skills by Thomas Diamante
• Essential Concepts of Cross-Cultural Management: Building on What We All Share
by Lawrence Beer
• Growing Your Business: Making Human Resources Work for You by Robert Baron
• Developing Employee Talent to Perform: People Power by Kim Warren
• Fostering Creativity in Self and the Organization: Your Professional Edge by Eric W. Stein
• Designing Creative High Power Teams and Organizations: Beyond Leadership
by Eric W. Stein
• Creating a Pathway to Your Dream Career Your Dream Career: Designing and Controlling
a Career Around Your Life Goals by Tom Kucharvy

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